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February 6, 2015

Sustainable Cavite

One might think of Cavite as an industrial area given that many export zones, manufacturing facilities, and other industrial outfits have made it their home. However there are still parts of Cavite that are rural in feel albeit urban in standard of living. I am writing about Cavite’s upland towns.

I found a second home in Amadeo, Cavite when my family found a small property with an unkempt garden with a structure that resembled a coffee warehouse and another structure which was a bungalow. It was not too pretty then and needed some work. But we bought it anyway.

Chit Juan, Sustainable Cavite, EchoFarm, Feb6

Back in 2005, it was a nice idea to own a piece of land with an elevation of 550 meters above sea level. It was breezy and one dreamt of a little country home with white picket fence and a small garden. But back then, no one had time to even visit every month or even every quarter.

When we opened ECHOstore in 2008, I also wanted to know where our food came from, what vegetables we would serve at the ECHOcafe, and what vegetables we would eat at home. Our first experiments were lowland varieties like kangkong and pechay.

Then, when we opened ECHOmarket, we had to roll up our sleeves and get down to serious business. We had to have a regular supply of vegetables, fruits, coconuts, and whatever grew in the farm. Thus, the term “farm to table” became real and a real commitment for all of us in the store and in my household.

So, I started to make weekly trips to the farm (which we called ECHOfarms) and supervised the development of what would be a sustainable business in agriculture.

The unkempt garden now became a lush display of greens. We trimmed the trees, pruned the bushes and started to make our vegetable plots. As demand rose, we made more plots, now extending to a neighboring lot. Today, we at ECHOfarms belong to a group called AMOR or Amadeo Organic. But this is happening not just in Amadeo but also in other upland towns: Mendez, Indang, Alfonso, Magallanes, Silang, and a few more sustainable barangays.

Organic farmer

Organic farmer

Just this week, I went to visit other farms in nearby Mendez. I have friends who bought property to make country homes with gardens in the same area. There are organic coffee farms such as that owned by Mr. Levy Perez who graciously hosted our coffee training seminar.

Bailen or Gen Aguinaldo is also another coffee town where we planted coffee trees in 2007. Tagaytay City, of course, is no exception. There are inner roads and inner sanctums well hidden from the national highway where organic gardens thrive. Even the famous Antonio’s restaurant started in a small village in Tagaytay.

Sonia’s Garden, on the other hand, is in Alfonso, where many farms have been developed including Secretary Kiko Pangilinan’s ecotourism coffee and vegetable farm called Sweet Springs.

Coffee and Vegetables

Coffee and Vegetables

This is the other side of Cavite—sustainably planted to greens and other crops like the Cavite staples: coffee, banana, pineapple and papaya.

So, the next time you drive up to Tagaytay, check out Cavite’s other sustainable towns—the upland towns where coffee and its companion crops are happily enjoying the cool breeze and the elevation it so needs. Check your altimeter. Once your ears pop, it may be the start of the climb towards more than 600 meters as you near the Tagaytay Ridge. Around the ridge and into the inner towns, you will find fresh fruits for sale, organic farms where you can buy salad greens you pick yourself, and many other eco-tourism options.

Young mushroom farmers

Young mushroom farmers

It may be the start of a sustainable lifestyle for you and your family. Knowing where your food comes from. Knowing the farmer who grew the food. Take a short trip and explore the sustainable side of Cavite.

Pahimis Festival happens in Amadeo on February 13. There will be coffee of course and a host of other products you can feast on. Drive up and enjoy the breeze these cool February mornings.

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