BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
Located along the sandy shores of Danacbunga, Botolan in Zambales, Sambali Beach Farm has become an agritourism destination that offers outdoor activities and promotes natural farming practices.
The farm was established by Ching Camara who decided to start farming after realizing that she had a lot of time in her hands. She began by planting herbs and bamboo. Eventually, the farm began to expand and she needed more people to help her plant crops, raise livestock, and maintain the amenities.
Such a task seemed arduous for one person alone. Luckily, Camara had the help of the staff of Sambali Beach Farm to make things easier. Among them is Enia Mapa, the general manager of the farm. She oversees the farm’s operations to make sure that they all run smoothly.
Looking after the plants and animals
“One thing we value at Samabli Beach Farm is our soil, it’s the main reason we can maintain such healthy plants at the farm,” Mapa said.
Since the farm is located near the beach, Mapa said that they have to make sure that the soil remains healthy for crop production. The farm does this by manufacturing its soil and adding all the important nutrients, biomass, and organic materials it needs.
Mapa added that they dig a hole that’s one meter deep and slowly add layers of different types of biomass into the pit. The biomass is a mixture of organic waste, coconut shells, and biochar. At times, the staff of Sambali Beach Farm also puts a plastic sheet at the bottom of the pit to keep the water and nutrients from seeping out. Now, they use coconut shells instead.
Aside from the plants, Mapa also monitors the animals on the farm, especially the chickens. She makes sure that their livestock and poultry are treated by the staff as if they were their pets.
“We closely monitor the temperature of their homes and have regular reports of their mortality and living conditions. It’s important to be very hands-on with the chickens, especially when they are still young since this plays a major role in their health as adults. We also have a special all-natural tea that we brew for our chickens if they are sick,” she shared.
Creating products from the farm
Sambali Beach Farm is also known for many products derived from the farm. One of their current best-selling products is their kombucha and SBF Iced Tea. In the past, they used to only serve this to guests on the farm. Now, they have started bottling and selling it at some local shops in Zambales and to customers in Manila.
The farm’s pork is also known to consumers. They also recently started processing pig meat to create value-added products such as sisig, longganisa, and more that consumers can freeze and cook anytime.
“Most of our ideas for new products just come from taking a look at the farm and seeing what people enjoy and would like to try. We focus on things that are working well at the farm and that we can share with our community,” Mapa said.
Another product that they’ve recently come up with in light of the gardening trend in the last two years is bokashi compost. For years, they have been using bokashi and biochar to decompose their kitchen waste on the farm.
“The bokashi is what decomposes the organic material and the biochar helps remove odor and lengthens the shelflife of the bokashi. This year we decided to package it up and offer it to our customers,” Mapa said.
She added that they’re also offering the natural serum that they spray on their plants. The mixture is packed with healthy microbes and nutrients for both the soil and plant. It is now known as “Flower Burst” which is a common garden spray that their customers can now use regularly.
Adapting to current times
When the pandemic started, Sambali Beach Farm was also severely affected like many others in the tourism industry. Despite the situation, the farm managed to stay afloat because it remained flexible in creating different experiences for its guests.
“We always focus on doing outdoor activities and tours which are great ways for our guests to visit the farm. We developed our outdoor spaces and turned them into attractions guests can enjoy,” Mapa said.
The farm’s general manager also explained how they made use of their land to provide guests with an open-spaced area where they can roam around and enjoy the farm while still adhering to health protocols.
Managing a farm takes a lot of work but with the right people, there are better chances of keeping a farm operational. With Mapa’s help, Sambali Beach Farm maintains the quality of its products while adapting to current situations.
For more information, visit Sambali Beach Farm on Facebook.