BY VINA MEDENILLA
Huni Farm is a 3.5-hectare agricultural land in Barangay Wangan, Calinan, Davao City that is filled with naturally-grown farm animals and crops.
It is an organic farm certified by the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) Davao City.
Among many farmers who hold fond childhood memories of farm life is Louella Garcia, the founder and manager of Huni Farm. She is the woman behind the success of this agribusiness built from scratch.
“I grew up on the farm of my dad. Growing up, I was already exposed to farm life. I remember that even at a young age, I was [already] taking care of our animals, [while also] planting [different crops] here and there. I was also very passionate about cooking,” said Garcia.
Switching from conventional to organic farming
Garcia ventured into conventional farming in 2000, but later transitioned to natural farming in 2011 after realizing the environmental impacts of conventional agriculture.
When she started producing organic products, she decided to put them up for sale. However, organic products aren’t as highly saleable as they are today when she entered the business. “Sales were slow, but I just took little steps at a time, trying to find my way to make farming sustainable for me.”
Garcia joined an organic market organized by the Department of Agriculture. This eventually led to more opportunities like offering educational tours where Garcia demonstrates how she organically raises crops and livestock.
That time, visitors would always look forward to seeing her recipes served on the table. Intertwining her love for farming and cooking, the increasing demand from the public urged her to open a restaurant inside Huni Farm in 2018.
Every farm visit is a unique experience
Huni Farm currently produces vegetables mentioned in a Filipino folk song “Bahay Kubo,” fruit-bearing trees, herbs like parsley, high-value crops like lettuce, and more. As of the interview, Huni Farm is also home to hogs and chickens. While animal feed and vitamins are made out of natural ingredients from the farm.
For over 10 years in natural farming, Garcia and her team have been following a cycle according to the rhythms of nature. They harvest fruits that are in season and collect vegetables every day based on the clients’ demand. Any excess supply is set aside for personal consumption.
“Since we are practicing the natural way of farming, we depend on what nature [gives] us.” She adds, “Our ultimate principle is to keep [everything] natural.”
They integrate elements that allow the farm to be sustainable and natural. Farm wastes are turned into compost, which becomes fertilizer for the plants. After nurturing and harvesting the plants, these will either be served at the restaurant or fed to the animals.
While it is challenging to run a restaurant that serves dishes based on the available farm produce, Garcia looks at it as a unique selling point. “To manage this, we have our own restaurant where we serve fixed a la carte dishes on weekdays and lunch buffet on weekends and holidays. Our lunch buffet menu changes every week depending on what’s available at the farm.”
Garcia admits that it is hard to introduce and educate guests about this concept, but for her, this is what makes every visit exciting and unique.
The farm supplies the on-site restaurant with fresh fruits and vegetables as the main ingredients for their delectable meals and value-added products like tableya jam, kale bread, and carrot loaf. Some of the farm’s fresh produce is also sold to consumers. The common vegetables cost P50/kg while high-value ones are P150/kg.
Farms like Huni Farm are venues that amplify the importance of producing and consuming safe, quality, and delicious food.
Hopefully, even after the pandemic, more and more individuals recognize and support organic produce nurtured by Filipino farmers.
For more information, visit Huni Farm.
Photos from Huni Farm.