By Vina Medenilla
Developing a farm from the ground up involves challenges and opportunities. One thing that many often see as a disadvantage or hindrance in farming is a small land size.
But a Bicolano family did not let their land size keep them from running a productive farm. Rather, they used two strategies—diversifying the land and widening their network—to reach their goals.
Found in Camarines Norte, the surfing capital of Bicol, Baluzo Farm sits on a 1.3-hectare land that is solely devoted to natural farming. It was established by Eduardo B. Baluzo, a family’s patriarch, after his retirement in the military in 2009.
Hailing from Albay, Camarines Sur, Baluzo found a home in Daet, Camarines Norte where his family now resides. His wife Anicia influenced his initial interest in natural farming. Later, they were both introduced to organic methods by the Department of Agriculture (DA) in 2015.
As an ATI School for Practical Agriculture (SPA), Baluzo and his eldest son, Mark John, are partners in assisting trainees in different agriculture programs that the farm offers.
Baluzo Farm is planted to different crops that are integrated with animal production. The farm, during the time of the interview, raises 1000 tilapia fingerlings, 24 native pigs, 22 rabbits, 12 goats, 10 chickens, and a cow.
The farmland is subdivided into various sections: 5,000 sqm space for fruit-bearing trees like banana and coconut, 2,000 sqm for vegetable production, a 2,000 sqm agroforestry area that grows more than 2,000 trees, 100 sqm for 15 colonies of stingless bees, a 60 sqm vermicomposting facility, 40 sqm for ornamental plants like orchids, and a 12 sqm mushroom house that can accommodate up to 1000 mushroom grow bags.
The farm is equipped with facilities such as a function hall for training and seminars, accommodation for trainees and guests, and a storage room for farm materials, tools, and equipment.
They also have a greenhouse with a misting system and UV film to shield the plants from excessive heat and harmful UV rays.
The owners said that the farm has sandy loam soil, which is suitable for their lowland vegetables and fruit-bearing trees. However, traces of toxicity can still be found in the soil since the farm is surrounded by conventional farms. Despite this, they continue to keep everything as natural as possible.
Finding strengths in partnerships
The Baluzo family attributes the farm’s success not only to the family members’ shared hard work, but also to the government agencies they partnered with to become a farm school, an agritourism destination, and a reliable source of products and services.
“We accept students from Senior High Schools and Universities for their immersion and on-the-job training. We also built a partnership with the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) as a research extension in their garlic propagation.”
They added, “When we realized that farming can be further appreciated by our society as an agritourism site, [we partnered] with the Department of Tourism (DOT), and they support us in promoting not only the place, but also the products and services that we have.”
According to Mark John, the farm manager, these collaborations are, in a way, a farm’s strategy to promote the importance of naturally-grown food to the community.
Baluzo Farm is an example that land size alone doesn’t dictate the profitability and productivity of an agribusiness. By having the right network and employing integrated farming systems, Baluzo Farm continues to grow and sustain its daily operations.
Photos courtesy of Baluzo Farm
For more information, visit Baluzo Farm.