By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
KC Dragon Fruit Farm (KCDF Farm) is a three-hectare farm in Lemery, Panay, Iloilo which began from a local’s hobby of planting fruit-bearing trees. Eventually, the farm has shown potential as a farm tourism site and is ready to open its doors to the public.
The farm is owned by Kristian Chif (KC) Alanan Ballener who is a current member of the Sanggunian Bayan in Lemery, Iloilo.
In the first part of the article, Ballener shared how the farm began and why he decided to grow dragon fruits as a long-term investment. Now, he shares what amenities that were recently added in the farm and some tips on how to set up a farm tourism destination.
New farm features
“When the dragon fruit trees matured and bore fruit, our farm entertained many visitors who encouraged me to open the farm as a farm tourism destination,” Ballener said.
So during the early months of 2020, Ballener slowly put together different attractions like a signboard and cottages where their guests can take a breather.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic which ensued an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), their plans were put to a sudden halt. Still, Ballener kept the dream alive and used this time to regroup and prepare for his next efforts in creating amenities for KCDF.
“My wife and I started creating Instagrammable nests that are both round and heart-shaped, a swimming pool, a cafeteria, and a pond with tilapia fingerlings,” Ballener said.
By June 1, they officially opened to the public, who were more than happy to visit the farm while practicing proper hygiene and social distancing rules, of course.
Just shy of Ballener’s 10 year vision, KCDF is now a developed three-hectare farm that’s dedicated to fruit growing trees and hosting guests who want to bask in the beauty of nature while also practicing a healthy lifestyle by consuming the fresh produce that grows on the farm.
Ballener is also planning to create value-added products such as jams and jellies from the farm’s dragon fruits.
Through the proper farming inputs and staying true to his vision, Ballener and his family now have something they can be proud of and even share with others.
How to manage a farm tourism destination
Although Ballener’s projected dream for his farm came into fruition a few years early from his initial prediction, he admits that the road to achieving it was not an easy one.
“It was hard maintaining the farm. Although growing dragon fruits were good for a long term investment, it was expensive and the return of investment took some time. But when the trees began flowering, things became easier,” he said.
To those who want to venture into farm tourism, Ballener emphasized three points to remember: first is that the farm must have a long-term goal; second is that farm owners must continue to innovate as well as be open to both suggestions and criticisms especially if it’s for the farm’s improvement; and lastly, that farm owners must not focus only on caring for the plants but the people inside the farm as well since they play a role in maintaining a farm.
Opening KCDF Farm means more than just a dream come true for Ballener. It’s also a chance for him to share his experience with others and to encourage aspiring farmers to start following their dreams as soon as they can so they can enjoy its benefits.
For more information, visit KCDF on Facebook.