For ‘agrophilics’ and nature- seekers, this farm is intertwining of leisure, learning, and adventure. In Alameda Farm, you experience the sights and sounds of nature, the taste of healthy, organically- grown produce, and the feel of adrenaline rush while being whisked over and yonder the sprawling landscape of coconuts, mangoes, and an assortment of crops via sky bike and zip line. Truly, a unique experience and one-of-a-kind adventure in the Caraga Region worthy of your bucket list.
Alameda Farm offers strictly organic dining experiences, sale of chemical-free produce such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, chickens, livestock and other farm commodities, plus overnight accommodation for the guests. It also opens opportunities to visitors, tourists, families, farmers, and fishers who want to be educated and trained on farming techniques and sustainable agriculture, while providing them a venue for relaxation and outdoor adventures such as hiking, trekking, jogging, ATV biking, sky biking, and zip-lining. It is agriculture and tourism rolled into one emerging endeavor known as farm tourism.
Alameda Farm is owned by Manuel O. Alameda Sr., Alameda Farm is owned by Manuel O. Alameda Sr., the new governor of Surigao del Sur. Farming has always been his line of interest besides politics. He was already into farming even before he entered public service. His biggest ‘break’ in farming was in 2013 when his farm was identified as a learning site (LS) by the Department of Agriculture where he, as a cooperator, was provided with training and financial support to develop his farm into something worthy of emulation. His immersion at the Costales Nature Farms in Laguna was a turning point for him. He was inspired by how an IT expert with zero knowledge in agriculture was able to transform a piece of land into a farm tourism wonder.
Imbued with courage, determination, and enthusiasm, VG Alameda decided to develop his farm into a tourist destination. His decision was just in time for the signing of Republic Act No. 10816 otherwise known as the “Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016”. The law seeks to “promote environment-friendly, efficient and sustainable farm practices; provide alternative recreation facilities and farm tourism activities for families, students, and other clientele; and promote health and wellness with high-quality farm-produced food.” The law stipulates the provision of financial, infrastructure, and technical support from various government agencies to operators who wish to venture into farm tourism. Because of this development, VG Alameda expanded his three-hectare farmland into a 10-hectare farm tourism attraction. He constructed additional features in his farm such as cabins, cottages, and tents for relaxation and overnight stays; plus training halls, viewing decks, and recreational activities. He cultivated more crops, vegetables, and provided areas for raising hogs, goats, poultry, geese, and ducks. Aside from support on agriculture and fisheries extension services, he also learned from the Training on Rubber Production.
Where to Find
Alameda Farm is located 73 kilometers south of Tandag City in the municipality of San Agustin, province of Surigao del Sur, Eastern Mindanao. It is nestled atop the hilly interior of Sitio Hamburger Hills, Barangay Gata which is 750 feet above sea level and 2.8 kilometers away from the national highway.
Alameda Farm is a cornucopia in itself. It’s a symbol of abundance and nourishment. Inside the farm, a variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs can be found. A far cry from what it was more than a decade ago where only mangoes and mangosteens were available. Now, down a deep, narrow portion of the farm, the golden terrain is matted with greenery of bananas, cacaos, dragon fruits, and guavas which are interspersed with coconut
and mango trees.
At the southern part of the farm is a sloping hill where eggplants, tomatoes, bitter gourds, pipinos, pechays, red peppers, chili peppers, peppermints, stevias, and string beans are grown applying the contour farming method. Down the hill are pineapples, napier grasses, cassavas, gingers, onions, and garlic. Nearby, rare fruits like Nandokmay mangoes from Thailand, American lemons, and kopyor (Macapuno) coconuts can be found. The farm’s last frontier is draped with tall trees that provide a forest-like scenery to tourists. All fruits and vegetables in Alameda Farm are organically-grown and are served to diners who relish all-around natural, organic, and vegan recipes.
A Menagerie of Animals
A flock of native chickens is either fenced in tall nettings or sheltered in small cages at the southern part of the farm. There is now a growing demand for these breeds of fowls due to its lower capital investments and less intensive management. People nowadays prefer native chickens over commercial breeds because they are ‘chemical-free’ and more nutritious to eat.
Wild pigs and boars are kept in wooden pens on top of a hill. While a paddling of ducks and geese are placed in a pond near a footbridge where tourists can watch. The Anglo-Nubian goats are sheltered far south of the farm where they are fed with Napier grass and other forage.
A Panorama to Behold
The gorge at the western portion followed a gradual rise where trellis, thatched gazebos, and cottages are perched. These structures, including pathways and landscapes, are adorned with colorful flowers and herbs like blue ternate, yellow bells, kamantigue, cistus, mayana, bougainvillea, orchids, and philodendron, to name a few. Pathways are either wooden or stairs of crushed stones that add contrast to the green Bermuda lawn. The wooden trail follows the contour of a cliff that connects to the viewing deck overlooking the coastlines of Surigao del Sur, the vast Pacific, the famous Britania islets, and the rising sun over the horizon.
The farm has 11 Nipa cabins that can house 65 weary travelers aside from the open-air gazebos and tents where they can also relax. It has basic amenities like toilets, showers, wash stations, and kitchen. Sleeping quarters are air-conditioned with double-decked beds. A center cottage has a loft for anyone wanting to have an airy sleep or gaze the star-studded night sky. At the southeast section of the farm, is a function hall that is used for meetings, training, wedding receptions and other gatherings for farmers, training and special guests. It is currently being renovated to accommodate the growing demand of people wanting to use the place.
Healthy, Home-made Treats
Locally-made Pasalubong products are available at the reception area. For the sweet tooth who digs healthy treats, Alameda Farm sells Coco Honey, which is an all-natural sweetener made from coconut sap, and Coco Sugar, which is produced from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm. They also sell Lemon Grass Juice which helps detoxify the body and relief from stomach disorders, insomnia, respiratory disorders, fever, aches, infections, rheumatism, and edema.
VG Alameda strongly advocates the practice of Organic Agriculture which is the promotion of ecologically sound, socially acceptable, economically viable and technically feasible farming practice. He discourages farmers from using chemical fertilizers, pesticides, pharmaceuticals in growing vegetables, crops, livestock and fish which he deems as harmful to farmers, consumers and the environment.
When Worms Matter
As part of VG Alameda’s campaign against the use of chemical fertilizers, he constructed a Vermi Culture farm where he uses worm castings/manure and food wastes and mixed it with soil to create a compost which is an excellent, nutrient-rich organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.
Riding the CALESA
In June 2016, an organization called CALESA which stands for Caraga Agricultural Learning Site Association was created. This is a group of LS cooperators that aims to strengthen linkages between and among LS cooperators, share knowledge and expertise, and promote and improve learning sites being a center of learning for farmers and fisherfolks. Currently, VG Alameda is the President of CALESA and his farm is usually the venue each time the organization conducts its periodic meetings. Aside from what the acronym originally stands for, CALESA may also mean Connecting Adventure-Like Experience with Scenic Agriculture to speak for what one experiences at Alameda Farm.
Soon, if plans push through, the road leading to the farm will be concreted through the efforts of the Department of Tourism (DOT). Also, Kiwi fruit and other crops will be grown on the farm. And with fingers crossed, a cable car connecting the farm to the famous Britania islets may be possible in the distant future.
Source: Department of Agriculture – Caraga