Saturday, November 05, 2016

Revisiting Costales Natures Farms Where My Organic Agriculture Journey Began

As a girl growing up in Laguna, I never really thought back then about the healthy food being served on our table. I just knew that many of the vegetables, even the rice, we eat came from my grandparents' or a relative's farm or garden. It was simply natural to be regularly consuming homegrown brown rice, red bananas, and other fruits like lanzones, rambutan, and guyabano plucked from trees surrounding our house. 

a glimpse at life in the province
Even eating native chicken and eggs laid by them were not out of the ordinary. We'd cook tinola using green papaya and dahon ng sili from neighbors or buy cooked viand from our friendly neighborhood maglalako who knows how to whip up the most tasteful local dishes. 

harvesting lettuce with a deep appreciation for organic farming 
It wasn't until 2012 when I got to fully appreciate the many benefits of organic and natural farming. I credit the Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) for introducing me to Sir Ronald Costales who owned a fully integrated organic farm in Majayjay, Laguna.    

this sign about agriculture and tourism says it all
Visiting Costales Nature Farms was an eye-opener. There, I discovered how much we all need to support organic farmers for our, and the next generations', wellbeing. Since then, I exerted more efforts to make healthier choices when it comes to choosing what food to prepare for my family.

all organic breakfast at Costales:
brown rice, egg, pork tapa and longganisa, and pako salad
I promised myself to bring my husband and sons to Costales so they, too, could be inspired first-hand on the importance of choosing organic. Last June, that wish was realized. My youngest son wrote about our trip (read his story, here) and it was an affirmation that we need to bring our young people "back to the basics" and introduce them to places where healthy food really come from.   

seedlings inside a greenhouse
Costales Nature Farms was started in 2005 on a 1000sqm. of land. It was originally intended as a leisure farm to simply grow organic produce intended for family consumption. As the family acquired more land area (now at eight hectares) and the farm slowly became known as a great source of healthy vegetables, they eventually began commercial operations in 2009. 

one happy farmer
A Certified Organic Farm by NICERT (Negros Island Certification), Costales Nature Farms now produces around 20 tons of organic vegetables per month. Its notable clients include supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants like Italianni's, Shopwise, Healthy Options, and Makati Shangri-La.

ponds where organic fish are grown
Aside from growing high value vegetables and herbs, the farm also engages in aqua culture, vermiculture, raising free range chickens, peking ducks, and even rabbits (bred for their poop to be used in making natural fertilizer).  

pigs in their not smelly pigpen
Some of their planting techniques include:

  • multi-cropping or planting different vegetables such as legumes and leafy vegetables in one area to maximize space
  • companion planting, which combines two plants in one plot (e.g. arugula, which is a good pest control for field rats + parsley, which help turn beetles away)
  • crop rotation to break the life cycle of insects (e.g. pechay attracts insects that lay eggs and if you plant it again next cropping season, the eggs would have already hatched and cause infestation; so, legumes are planted instead because they release nitrogen fixing bacteria that helps other plants and fertilize the soil)

free range chickens
At Costales, free range chickens are fed with grass, vegetables, and fermented organic feeds. They don't receive any antibiotic vaccines or growth hormones. Pigs and cows, too, get the same treatment. The farm also raises organic tilapia and pangasius (cream dory).

get to sleep under a mosquito net! :)
I encourage guests to stay in Costales overnight so you can further appreciate the cool weather and many other attractions this farm has to offer, including its proximity to the famous Majayjay Falls. Learn new things, enjoy the delicious healthy food, and bring home knowledge that would lead your family to live healthier lives.

organic agriculture bloggers and ATI staff with
Mrs. Josie Costales (middle, standing)
As Sir Ronald (who sadly passed away last June) told us several years ago, everyone should also do our part in aiming to reduce our carbon footprints like how organic farmers practice zero waste farming. Their tagline? "Throw your waste and it will be wasted. Preserve your waste and we save the world." 

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