By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Victor P. Esmeris, an OFW in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, saw the potential of farm tourism and decided to start his own site in the Philippines.
“Esmeris Farm is a combination of farm tourism, conventional farming, and nature conservation. We earn more from farm tourism because we have good numbers of guests who visit our farm,” Victor said.
The farm has a camp site, known as Daang Hari Campgrounds which, according to Esmeris, enjoys a distinct advantage because Esmeris Farm sits atop a hill in Liliw, Laguna, in the outskirts of the Mounts Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape national park.
Guests can enjoy activities that combine nature and physical activities like trekking to nearby nature sites such as Kilangin Falls.
As an added boost to their farm tourism setup, horses are raised on the farm for the visitors to ride.
Esmeris Farm is being currently managed by Amanda, Victor Esmeris’s wife, and their son, Reinaldo.
“My family needs to maintain the farm almost every day because that’s where we get extra income aside from my work overseas. Eventually, Esmeris Farm will be our primary source of profit, especially when my retirement comes,” the family patriarch said.
The Esmeris family preserves the lush surroundings with practices similar to farming such as weeding, tilling, and trellising. They even allow the horses to graze as a practical and natural way to keep the grass trimmed while keeping their animals well-fed.
Mixing profession with passion
Since Esmeris has been working as an architect in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia since 1985, he applied some of his creativity to the farm.
“A design that I added in the farm is inspired by the idea of the giant swings in Bali, Indonesia. It’s one of our farm’s attractions and is made with natural materials available all around the farm,” he said.
The giant swings on the site are situated on different spots where the guests can enjoy the view while swinging. There are even hammocks for those who are looking for a more relaxed vibe.
Victor also said that his career and experience has helped him in planning the farm’s facilities and layout in a way that promotes sustainability.
The family also maintains a large bamboo plantation where they source their needs like materials for trellises in the farm and camping grounds.
Despite being far from the site, Victor still contributes to the farm’s development and productivity by handling customer online booking and the website.
Value-adding for more income
It wasn’t always through farm tourism that the Esmeris family found their fortune. They began with growing seasonal crops that are well-accustomed to the weather and soil in Laguna.
Presently, Esmeris Farm also earns from the crops they grow such as coconuts, bananas, tomatoes, radishes, lettuce, chili, and more, which they either sell double than the regular farm gate price, or serve as food to the guests on their farm.
The coconut adds to the family’s profits as coconut saplings sold to interested customers. The family also transforms them into lambanog, a traditional Filipino wine made from coconut or palm sap.
“We harvest our coconuts every 45 days from the 150 trees planted on our property. We use the extra fruits for making lambanog, which we then sell to our farm guests or to direct buyers,” Esmeris said.
As an extra attraction to boost their farm tourism, the Esmeris family offers a chance for guests to witness the lambanog making process.
Victor said that the family follows conventional farming practices but are slowly transitioning to eventually become an organic farm. (Photos courtesy of Esmeris Farm)
This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s September 2019 issue.