By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Growing up in the province of Albay, Emilio “Emil” Climaco has been exposed to agriculture at an early age. It has also taught him how to appreciate nature. Over time, it was this experience that inspired him to become a farm owner himself.
“I’ve always been into nature and farming. I grew up in the province of Albay where me and my siblings used to do almost all palay farm operations from planting to harvesting. We were trained to do the hard manual labor of palay farming. Aside from that, we also live near the seashore. So all these childhood experiences may have been the subconscious contributing factors of my current endeavors. And finally, I just love to be with nature as it makes me relaxed and at peace,” Climaco said.
He began planning and engaging in farm work in 2016 so he could later fulfill his farming dream, which he did in 2017 when CHEFerd’s Farm was established and registered under the Department of Trade and Industry.
“Prior to venturing into farming, I was a Campsite Manager in Pagsanjan, Laguna where I also launched an Organic Farm Project. That was also the time when I enrolled in an Organic Agriculture course in the University of the Philippines Open University. It was because of those events that my passion for farming was reignited prompting me to resign from work and took a leap of faith to go on farming although I only have a meager savings,” Climaco said.
Following the four principles of organic agriculture
The name behind Climaco’s farm is more than just mere wordplay as its true meaning lies behind the four principles of care, health, ecology, and fairness which are observed in organic agriculture.
“I always believe that sustainable food production should not be at the expense of nature and the people working for you and those consuming your products. As such, the inputs that we use are all natural, no use of synthetic materials with adverse effects on the environment, and we raw materials that are seemingly useless to many,” Climaco said.
Climaco has been wanting to name his farm with something unique yet based on his advocacies. He had his eureka moment when he encountered Psalm 23 which declares “The Lord is my Shepherd.” Partnering this with the four principles, Climaco came up with CHEFerd’s Farm.
His vision for the farm is to have sustainable food production as well as other products of daily necessity that are anchored on caring for the people and planet.
“Environment should be the number one priority in farming. Profit will follow. If our focus is only profit, eventually, our nature will suffer which in turn will make our operations unsustainable. Future generations are at stake with our current practices. If we care for our children and grandchildren, then we have to make sure the environment is given utmost importance,” Climaco said.
On the farm, Climaco grows lettuce, blue butterfly pea, lemongrass, malunggay, camote tops, amaranth, turmeric, and insulin plants. He also engaged in beekeeping and composting, adding to the list of natural materials that Climaco can work with and turn into value-added products.
“The organic inputs that we use are mostly the compost which we produce at the farm. There is not much need for inputs against pests since the crops I’m taking care of are not that attractive to pests. It’s more about taking care of the soil. With regard to the bees, I make sure that their hives are located on shaded areas mostly under the trees to shield them from extreme weather,” the owner of CHEFerd’s Farm said.
Earning from everything he grows
One of the reasons why Climaco grows the mentioned crops is because he wanted to supply the demand of lettuce that came from his friends and the market. As for the other plants that are known to be used for teas, it’s because Climaco has an interest in tea and wanted to sell his produce into that specific drink that he enjoys.
Eventually, the farms tea products are among their customers’ favorites, with honey as the other since it is also sold as soap aside from as is.
The teas’ price range starts from P60 to P80 per pouch, stingless honey at P450 per 250 ml, compost at P10 per kilo, honey soap at P45 for small and P90 for big jars, achara costs P110, and chili flakes at P70.
A lot more products are available on the farm thanks to Climaco’s creativity and innovation to make something new from his raw ingredients.
Climaco explained that he practices value-adding to avoid wasting raw materials, prolong the shelf life of products from his farm, and give consumers access to better priced yet healthy and safe food.
For others to follow in his footsteps when it comes to innovation, Climaco said that one must first have an interest in a particular product like he does with tea.
“Interest and passion will sustain your energy in manufacturing and marketing the product in good and bad times. You also have to do research before venturing into making value added products to give you the technical-know-how in producing your desired product,” he said.
In the future, Climaco envisions CHEFerd’s Farm to be a farm tourism destination that also offers good food, a good time, and lots of farm activities for everyone to enjoy.
Through his passion, determination, and grit, Climaco made it possible to achieve his farming dream. But rather than focusing on making money, the proprietor of CHEFerd’s Farm makes it his mission to follow the principles of organic agriculture to make sure that he produces food in the safest way possible for both the environment and consumers. In doing so, he has created a way to benefit from his farm while giving back to the earth that has provided him with so much.
For more information, visit CHEFerd’s Farm on Facebook.
Photos from CHEFerd’s Farm Facebook page.