Launching a natural farm? Here are some things that you need to know

Farmer Romel Pascual harvesting eggplants at Bukid Iluminada.

By Vina Medenilla

It can be overwhelming to build a farm from the ground up. With the proper system, budgeting, preparation, and knowledge, one can get off to a good start and make the experience manageable along the way.

Michael and Angeli Pascual, the couple who run Bukid Iluminada in Quezon province, shared their firsthand experiences that novice farmers and agripreneurs alike can learn from.

Read the first part of this article: Fil-Am development worker revives family farm in honor of his grandmother

When practicing organic methods, Michael said to anticipate and prepare for two things: low yields and ugly or imperfect produce. Crops aren’t always flawless and occasionally have minor blemishes due to the natural processes involved in growing them, but this does not necessarily change their quality or freshness. 

Michael said that this presents an opportunity to learn and observe how nature works. “Most consumers want zero deformities even though there is nothing wrong with the product. With organic [and natural farming], you can’t escape some defects in your product, and sometimes yours can’t compare to conventional veggies in the market in terms of appearance.”

Secondly, expect competitive prices in the local market. In their case, they found direct selling to be more profitable.

The Pascuals sell the majority of their farm produce to online customers. They are also active participants in local weekend markets in town, including Tadhana Weekend Market, which holds events once a month in Lucena and Tayabas. 

“We are intent on working with more institutional buyers–restaurants, hotels, hospitals, market vendors–now that we have more variety and a steadier supply of produce,” Angeli said. 

Bukid Iluminada makes an average of P50,000 to P60,000 a month during peak season and an average of P20,000 to P30,000 during the lean season.

Implementing multi-cropping and relay cropping systems greatly contributes to their consistent weekly harvest.

Moreover, prudent financial management is essential to the farm’s success. Angeli noted that it is critical to set an operating fund that will sustain the farm during its early years and to be ready to use your income to support the farm’s needs. 

“Agriculture is a noble profession, but we must enter into it with eyes wide open about the sacrifices in personal finances that we must make to support this effort in the first few years.”

The couple also gives back to the community by assisting fellow farmers in selling their naturally-grown crops. One of the people they assisted is a single mother who sells oyster mushrooms and tomatoes from a nearby farm. They helped her with marketing her produce through an online delivery shop in Manila.

Michael advised, “Join or form local groups or communities that support your endeavor and that will help you establish a network of consumers through events like weekend markets. Most likely, they share the same challenges and have some great advice. Remember, it takes a community to feed a family.” 

Finally, Michael’s last point is simple but equally important. “If you are just starting, start slow and don’t set your expectations too high. It will end up being very costly and you will burn out. Take your time and enjoy the process.”

Photos courtesy of Bukid Iluminada

For more information, visit Bukid Iluminada

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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