We are adhering as close as possible to the principles of the indigenous farming systems in the way we run our farm but with slight difference. Flowers and other ornamental plants do not have much place in the indigenous way of farming because for indigenous peoples, you farm with the intention of producing food for nourishment. There is no question that flowers and ornamentals nourish the spirit but you can’t rely on them for survival.
This indigenous farming philosophy is very much reflected in our indigenous farmers farming values. The farmers that assist in the work at the farm have sneered at the plan of us introducing flowers a the farm when we broached the idea. We thought it important to challenge their beliefs so we went ahead with the plan.
Today, flowers and ornamentals are now integral part of our farm system. It is not unusual to see flowers cultivated side by side along with vegetables. Flowers and ornamentals add color to the scenery. You also see them line up the pathways to make walking a more pleasant experience. We are also trying to explore ways by which they could form part of the farm’s identity. We have already planted red bushes along the road that cuts through the farm. We hope to add bougainvilleas and yellow bells in the future. It won’t be long when the people coming to the farm would know they have arrived at the Layog Country Farm as soon as they see the bougainvilleas and yellow bells lining up the road.
We are on continuous lookout and experimenting on flowers and ornamental we could raise organically at the farm. Since we have reopened the farm 6 years ago (2000), we had been a regular customer of Baguio Orchidarium, the Manila Seedling Bank (now closed) and ornamental plants fairs. We have also sourced out plants from the neighboring towns like Candon and Cervantes in the nearby province of Ilocos Sur. We have spent for flowers and ornamentals almost as much as what we have spent in buying fruit tree seedlings.
What is heartwarming with our interest in the farm for beautiful plants is that it is a shared family passion. Everyone from my mom, my brothers, my sisters, my nephews my nieces and other relatives have all contributed to our growing collection. Many of our friends have also taken to giving the farm beautiful plants as gifts.
Besides our passion for flowers, the idea of challenging the long-held farming beliefs of local farmers about planting flowers as too “unfarming” was not lost in us. We wanted to show them that incorporating the cultivation of flowers and ornamentals in the farm does bring food to the table and not a waste of time and effort as they claim.
In February 2016, we opened a flower and ornamental plants shop along the road. It was intended to cater to flower and ornamental plants enthusiasts and those who may want to give them as gifts. We have a wide range of plant varieties for sale. In the future, we hope to add some of the exotic plants that grow in the forest within the farm. We hope to also start selling coffee and fruit tree seedlings in two years time. Flowers do not only add beautiful colors to the farm nor bring joy to farming but bring food to the table as well. We are confident our local farmers would one day agree with us.