Organic Agriculture, Then and Now

In the very early part of the previous decade, our entourage from the ATI Regional Training Center in Bicol visited emerging and established agricultural hubs in other parts of Luzon as a staff development activity.

The Master's Garden was one of the completely unexpected yet singularly memorable sites that the ATI in the Cordillera Autonomous Region led us to. Organic farming was then barely mentioned as an intervention in agriculture.

The name of the place suggested religious connotations. But our look and brief stay at The Master's Garden gave us knowledge and insights that offered very practical solutions to problems plaguing many farms in the country then.

The same problems prevail today, but instead of pioneers such as Pat Acosta of the Master's Garden sounding like isolated voices in the wilderness, the Department of Agriculture has taken up the cudgels and beats the drum for organic farming.

Very recently, I had the chance to be part of a team to document Organic Agriculture (OA) practitioners. It was another pleasant surprise to know that Pat Acosta's organic farm was one of our subjects.

And not only did I visit the place, I got to talk to the man himself. A decade ago was too awed to ask questions, merely eagerly listening to his mind-searing explanations on the importance of microbes in soil health, the ill effects of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides on the soil and its microorganisms, and the benefits of composting to maintain the health of the soil.

These tenets in his lectures at The Master's Garden are echoed today by other organic farming practitioners and trainers in other parts of the country. OA has gone mainstream.

It was plain to see that Pat Acosta's enthusiasm has not waned a bit. If anything, he has become even more impassioned about organic farming. His organic farming practices have evolved. But certainly, The Master's Garden shows that OA is sustainable, productive and profitable. It is also infectious...

The Master's Garden has attracted droves of tourists and enthusiasts. It has also influenced Pat's family members and visitors to put up organic farms of their own.

One of these is Felix Tan, a businessman-turned-farmer. His farm, the Garden of Life, is a small replica of The Master's Garden but takes on its own unique initiative: producing health-promoting herbs and vegetables.

A source of good things for many people, this OA. As Michael Bolton has said it about love, OA is a wonderful thing.