By Zac B. Sarian
Crises are not always bad. Sometimes a crisis could be a blessing in disguise. Just like what happened to our new friend from Taiwan, Chen Chi Neng, owner of Flower Home Garden Leisure Farm in Miaoli county.
While he was in his mid-20s after serving in the army, he made a lot of money in Taipei growing 300,000 pots of poinsettias a year which he sold for NT$100 each. He soon bought an expensive property in Miaoli south of Taipei where he continued to grow flowers, cherry tomato, cucumber, and other vegetables.
The business in Miaoli was good until 2006 when there was a financial crisis. The sale of flowers and vegetables really slumped so that Chen found a lot of time on his hands. That gave him the opportunity to study how to extract essential oil from flowers, fruits, and other plant parts. It took him four years to learn the techniques. Once you know the basics, it is really easy to extract essential oils with the use of the right chemicals and gadgets, according to Chen.
Chen said that worldwide, there are at least 200 kinds of oil extracts from flowers and plants. In his case, he has 20 kinds. After learning how to extract the oil, the important next step is researching on the right blending of the oils for various uses. He explains that three different blends are used in massage. The first blend is for making the customer relaxed and two other blends are administered midway and then at the end to make the customer fully relieved of whatever is nagging him.
Among the most saleable products at the Flower Home Garden Leisure Fam are oil for massage, oil for aromatherapy, and oil for skin care. Among the best sources of oil extracts as far as Chen is concerned are Rosemary, Lavender, Eucalyptus, Australian Tea Tree, Lemon, Lime, and other citrus. Oil can be extracted from the flowers, fruits and leaves of citrus trees. Chen has studied the right locations where the desired plants can be grown in large scale and has engaged farmers to grow them. The contract growers are making good income, according to Chen.
Flower Home Garden Leisure Farm still sells a lot of potted flowers and ornamentals. It also makes money from its restaurants and lodging facilities, as well as the entrance fee of NT$200 per visitor. About 150,000 tourists visit the place every year. But the biggest income earner are the different blends of essential oils for massage, aromatherapy, and skin care. A 500-ml massage oil, for instance, fetches NT$5,000 equivalent to R8,600 in Philippine money. That will be enough to massage ten clients of massage parlors. The parlors usually charge NT$2,500 per service so they also make good money from the use of the oil.
With the help of experts, research continues in discovering new uses or new innovations of the products. Subject of his present research is about lemon oil for whitening skin. He observes that it is effective in whitening the skin if it is administered at night. It does not work when it is used during the daytime.
Chen is a very humble person. He himself will cook and serve his favorite dishes for his visitors.
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s May 2019 issue.