A memorable trip to San Jorge, Samar in 2018 made me learn more about organic farming. It was a 2-day caving adventure into one of the most remote places in the Philippines. I was with two American tourists who happened to have a Ph.D. in Mountain Environment and Agriculture.
Although I have almost zero knowledge about agriculture, I have huge respect for people who are working in the industry. I was curious about their stories because it was the first time I met agriculturists who are also full-time travelers.
While camping deep within the forest of San Jorge, we got to talk more about what their research was all about. One of the things they were trying to learn more was how knowledgeable are people in Asia with organic farming. One of them then told me, “I’m going to be honest with you, Hanna. Do you know what’s the problem here in your country? You have so much land, in fact, too much land, but only a few are actually utilizing this land for farming.”
It was a painful slap in the face because she was telling the truth. In fact, I read a recent study that there may come a time when the Philippines will no longer have enough farmers and fishermen to grow and produce food. There’s a generation problem in agriculture especially that the younger generation has this perception that farming is unprofitable.
My conversation with these two tourists made me realize why I should start organic gardening. I’ve always wanted to try growing my own food, but I kept making excuses that’s why it took me a long time to actually do it. After that trip to Samar, I got convinced to start learning about organic farming. I believe that educating yourself first is extremely important in order to be successful at what you’re doing. You can’t just start something without at least a basic knowledge of how it’s supposed to work.
During the last two years, I’ve been reading more books and watching videos on how to maintain soil fertility and organic composition. I even considered enrolling in a farming school, but I don’t have time for it yet.
I also got particularly interested in container gardening because back then, I was living in a small apartment. Edible gardening is definitely doable even while living in studios, apartments, and condos if you have the right tools and the determination to do it.
There is still so much to learn but I am proud of myself that I am really doing this now. I believe that there should be a new generation of gardeners and farmers. I can’t stress this enough; growing our own food is a basic survival skill.
If more people are producing their own food in the backyards, there would be less of a need to mass-produce fruits and vegetables.
There are trips that make you think and re-evaluate your life. This is one of those trips. I’m sure if I meet those two again, they’ll be happy to know that they’ve convinced one more person to start organic farming.