THE Department of Tourism (DoT) has certified an organic farm owned and operated by a former airline pilot in General Santos City as the first farm tourism site in the Soccskargen region (Region 12).
Located in Barangay Katangawan in General Santos City, Captain James “Bong” Reamon’s two-hectare farm, Felicidad Orchard and Garden Organics, was acknowledged as a new ecotourism site by the DoT this week
“It was a great feeling after the hard work, two years after my retirement as airline pilot,” Reamon told The Manila Times.
The award of the certification was led by Tourism Undersecretary Benito Bengzon with Director Nelly Nita Dillera of DoT Region 12, Tourism Standards and Regulation Director Maria Rica Bueno, and Shirley Beldia of Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Training Institute Region 12.
“Organic farming is a must and the only way to keep our food safe. Here in the farm we practice integrated farming to help our environment and mitigate climate change in our own way.” Reamon said.
“My first love is agriculture and my father acquired this farm when I was only 8 years old,” the former commercial pilot told The Manila Times.
The farm started as a family project with Reamon’s wife Gilda along with their children. Through brainstorming and sit-down planning to design the master plan, the farm was transformed into fully organic from plants to animals.
“It was dead for 25 years because it was only a simple banana plantation until I inherited the farm in 2002. So my wife and I decided to go organic upon the advice of Mr. Zac Sarian, the agriculture magazine editor,” Reamon explained.
“Here you can see variety of plants fruit trees, organic rice, vegetables, and even herbs which are naturally consumable and good for our health,” he added.
Although the farm has been gradually developing for 15 years, it was only after Reamon’s retirement that he was able to focus on developing it as a tourism enterprise.
“Only after my retirement two years ago, I focused into its development,” he said. “Being a pilot I have had a chance to see lots of tourism sites here and abroad and it’s a big industry.”
According to Reamon, opportunities in organic farming are broad, since it can expand into cottage industries and other activities in the farm that will make the project viable.
Explaining his farming methods, Reamon said, “It is vermiculture-based. We grow our fertilizer and feeds for fish and livestock (salvinia, azzola and duck weeds)… we grow our fertilizer here and we teach other farmers through hands-on training.”
Not only an experienced farmer, Reamon has gained recognition for a number of inventions, the most notable of which is the patented “Rex Compost tea brewer,” which produces a liquid substance that is more potent than the simple vermicast itself as brewing material for compost. Reamon explained that compost tea is a water extract from compost that is brewed while extracting the beneficial organisms. The bacteria and fungi are given a chance to increase in number and activity, improving the substance’s effectiveness as a fertilizer.
The Rex compost tea brewer gained 1st Prize in creative research during the National Inventors’ Week in 2005. It also won 2nd Prize for the invention category during the National Invention Contest and Exhibition in 2009, and represented the Philippines at the Taipei Technology Fair in 2010.
Other inventions on the farm include the “Gizelle Aerodynamically designed windmill,” which pump water for the crops, and the “Jimbo ventilation system” for cooling houses, piggeries, and greenhouse units.
The aerodynamically-designed windmill received numerous local and international awards, including Invention of the Year at the National Inventors’ Week 1984, Presidential Gold Medal award, and World Intellectual Property Organization Gold Medal award at the Exhibition of Young Inventors in Plodiv, Bulgaria 1985.
“Invention is the other part of the farm, aside from my own inventions. The Filipino inventors’ society will also display their products for distribution in Mindanao,” the organic farmer explained.
Asked about his short and long-term goals, Reamon briefly explained his aspirations. “My short-term goal is to make this place an effective ecotourism and educational site, and my long-term goal is simply to have a natural and organic bed and breakfast,” he said.
Reamon also shared his upcoming activity in September, when he will teach young students in invention to help develop the “inventive and innovative character” of this generation.
“We will also be training young people here in Gensan to become inventors in their own right through the ‘invent-school program’. Successful inventors from Manila will train our young people. All of these are for educational purposes to teach the relevance of farming and its science to our children,” Reamon said.