Strawberry farm draws tourists
It was the ill-effects of pesticides and toxic fertilizers that drove an engineer-contractor to turn to organic farming and grow hundreds of strawberries in what has become one of Cebu’s top tourist destinations— Sergio’s Strawberry Farm in the town of Dalaguete, south of the province.
Farm owner Paul Revalde, a 50-year-old engineer, dedicated the strawberry farm to his father, Sergio, who was into vegetable and livestock farming as one of his main sources of livelihood.
However, it was hard for Revalde’s family when his father died at 51, due to lung cancer.
“My father had a bus line business and livestock but wa gyud niya biya-i ang farm. Mao gyud to ang dako nga nakatabang sa amoa (he never left the farm. That was what helped us a lot) although we were working students at the university we attended because we are musicians, nakatabang gyud to ang pagpananom sa among amahan (my father’s farming activities really helped),” he said.
“Pagkamatay niya, usa lang ang ni-graduate sa among magsuon. Lisod gyud. Ang farm ang dako gyud og gikatabang namo (When he died, only one of us was able to graduate. It was really hard. The farm helped us a lot.), Revalde added.
Revalde said his father was a “victim of pesticides”. The late Sergio used to apply heavy doses of pesticide sprays on their farm which led to his illness.
Revalde, who finished a degree in engineering, always wanted to promote organic farming to local farmers and also to young people.
“Mao nay akong gustong ibalik sa mga millennials nga dili ta angay maulaw sa farming because without the farmers, wala tay pagkaon sa lamisa (I want millennials to know that we should not be ashamed of farming because without the farmers, we won’t have food on the table),” he said.
“We need to do farming wherever we go. Bisan mapropesyonal na ta, balik gyud tas bukid kay naa man tay yuta (Even if we become professionals, we should go back to farming because there is land to till.) That is my advocacy, even with the technology even if you’re a professional, we should go back to basics and do the farming,” he added.
Revalde also believes that any developmental project must not have adverse effects on the environment.
“I really want to promote natural farming and to be able to prove to the people that we can grow vegetables and fruits without using pesticides, which is really bad for our health and especially to the environment,” Revalde told Cebu Daily News in an interview.
He learned about organic farming during his travels abroad where he also studied waste management, bio-gas and ways to promote renewable energy.
“When I went to Thailand, I said we can do organic farming in Dalaguete; and we decided, my family and I, to slowly put up the farm,” he said.
Aside from his farm and construction business, Revalde also dabbles in environmental projects.
His company produces bio-waste which serves as the only natural fertilizer in the strawberry farm.
For Revalde, organic farming does not only promote good health and environmental biodiversity, it also provides local farmers with a “sustainable way of farming”.
“When farmers become very dependent on pesticides and fertilizers, they will have bigger inputs and their income will not be secure; plus the market is fluctuating compared to natural or organic farming, which has a fixed market or you can develop your own market,” he said in Cebuano.
(To be continued…)
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