By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Inspired by an article on Costales Nature Farm that was published in an issue of Agriculture Monthly, Raymond Michael B. Roldan, a former entrepreneur who engaged in trading and marketing businesses, managed to take the first step in building his dream farm.
In 2016, he and his wife decided to build a rest house in the countryside and grow their own food so they can be sure that it’s pesticide-free, fresh, and healthy. They later decided to open it up to the public at a perfect time.
It was around the time when the Republic Act 10816, otherwise known as the Farm Tourism Act, was approved. Roldan then promptly applied and became Bohol’s first and only Department of Tourism (DOT) Accredited Farm Tourism Destination at that time.
Presently, Roldan is the proud proprietor of Vita Isola Leisure Farm in Bohol which is a natural farm that highlights the island life, as it says so in its name which is Italian for “island life.”
(Read all about Vita Isola Leisure Farm here.)
As a farm tourism destination Vita Isola has various amenities which include a natural farm and aquaculture tour, a farm-to-table restaurant, an infinity pool and gazebo with a stunning ocean view, an open air pavilion, aqua activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and swimming, and a mangrove tour among many other features.
But how did Roldan apply for that DOT Farm Tourism Certification?
He began by submitting basic documents such as an appropriate permit from the local government unit (LGU), a list of the farm’s personnel which includes its officers, owners as well as its guides, and a Department of Trade and Industry registration for sole proprietorship and a registration for corporations from the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).
Aside from these documents, the farm must comply to a minimum standard requirements which are as follows:
- Situated in a generally safe and peaceful location
- Must have a reception or information center, a parking area, a dining or multi-purpose area, a souvenir shop or mini trading area, a restaurant, fire fighting facilities, wash areas, and restrooms
- Farm guides and security personnel must be present in the vicinity
- Farm resorts must have accommodations for their guests
- Support infrastructure facilities such as road, electricity, water, and communication
- Safety signages and first-aid kits are available around the property
- Must have garbage cans and follow proper waste and disposal management
“Once you have the above prerequisites, the submission and processing of your accreditation is straightforward,” Roldan said.
He added that it is important to consider these basic things right from the start and to also consider the more important things that would ensure success as a farm tourism site such as a unique selling proposition (USP) and how to properly market it to target customers.
And for those who are already engaged in farming, Roldan advises them to take their farm to the next step by considering farm tourism since it adds value and income to a farm while being able to share the joy of farming with others.
For more information on how to become a DOT-accredited farm tourism destination, visit the Department of Tourism’s website.
Photos from Raymond Michael B. Roldan