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terraced vegetable plots

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

                               – Walt Disney

Dreaming and visualization are very much part of a farmer’s work. Around four months before this post, I was brought to a tiny piece of land on a rock cliff at the northwestern end of Boracay Island called Yapak. My good friend, who owned this, was looking at creating a sustainable organic garden to supply his family food requirements at home. While it sounded like a great plan, I had given my honest opinion and said this was close to impossible as a project. Boracay, for one, has very high rates for public water as it was coming from the mainland and pumped on an underwater pipe to the island. We were also planning to build on a rocky cliff, quite a challenge to any farmscaper with enough experience in designing farms.

greenhouse on a cliff

I had already made a farm near the beach, another carved out of forest and even some in bare land – this was to be the ultimate farmscaping challenge. My take on the whole thing was it’s next to impossible but certainly doable. I told my friend this can only work with one design, terraced vegetable beds and green houses for the plants. For the water, we

first harvest

would need a rain catching system with a large tank for the dry season in the summer months of the Philippines. It seemed like an incredible project and I actually forgot about the possibilities of this coming to life.

I found myself on the way to Boracay a little over a month later, in a van full of cargo that the owner had ordered. A waste shredding machine, a box full of African Nightcrawler worms, some pineapple suckers, some seedlings and liquid organic fertilizer we made at the farm. I was on my way to relocate to this island I considered my second home, it seemed like I was relocating a farm with me as well.

shredder and anaerobic composting beds

The worms found a comfortable home with lots of food coming from the nearby Material Recovery Facility. The shredder, the seedlings, the suckers and the fertilizer all went good use around the farm. The farm now had 10 vegetable beds, neatly lined along the cliff-side, and some had a greenhouse over it as well. This was mainly for the lettuce we were to produce here, a delicate crop that can only survive protected from heavy rainfall. We also constructed a rain catching system with enough water for a few months use. We had created a cool little farm on a sloping rocky hillside in Boracay Island.

organic lolo rossa

The rest of our open plots are grown to tomato, arugula, basil, spring onions, zucchini, cucumber, sugar beets and radish. We will soon put up a nursery which will have a nice collection of gourmet culinary herbs like sage, marjoram, oregano, thyme, rosemary and mint.

Three months after we had first talked about it, I was harvesting our first crop of arugula from the garden and had it for lunch. The first harvest, as farmers go, is always a time of celebration. It is usually offered to special guests and enjoyed by the family. There were none of them that day. Just me and a friend, munching on some fresh, crispy arugula leaves, sun-dried tomatoes, a tangy dijon vinagrette and some grated parmesan. It was a real cause for celebration, I suppose. When what seemed impossible is done, when what seemed realistic is surpassed and when nature conquers the odds and works its wonders just the same – it is truly a time to celebrate.

sunday harvest