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This is how I became a city boy farmer.
Up until 2010, I had never seen or tasted an actual durian fruit. When I did taste one, I threw up. I couldn’t take the smell. I didn’t like the texture. And it didn’t taste anything like the durian candy sold commercially.
The second time I encountered the fruit was with a few workmates from NOW (Max, Sarah, and Dennis) who wanted me to try it. Same thing happened: I retched and heaved in public. I had to rush off to a secluded spot so as not to gross people out.
The third and final time was through my father-in-law (well, way before I married his daughter). He put durian in front of me and I somehow managed to keep the fruit down. Deep inside, I wanted to die. But I couldn’t refuse eating the fruit for fear of offending him.
A strange thing happened during that time. I willed myself to like the fruit and ignore the things I didn’t like about it. I managed to eat one seed. And then I reached for another one. Still grossed out by the sliminess, the smell, the taste. I finished that one too. And I reached for another one.
Let’s impress the hell out of these Davaoenos.
Before I knew it, I had finished 6 seeds.
And I liked it.
That started my journey towards loving this fruit.
Taking On A Large Responsibility
I am staring at a large expanse of land filled with weed.
Looking up, I see coconut trees with obvious signs of damage and disease. I see trees without fruits. I see trees that are out of place.
Am I ready for this responsibility?
I had just recently taken over the management of the farm from my father-in-law. Experience-wise, I probably only have a quarter of what he possesses. All I really know about farming is planting coconuts in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte.
Planting is too generous a word for my farming experience.
Let’s say I’m a glorified hole digger and plant burier. What can you expect? I’m just a city boy farmer.
The most I can probably claim is that I have the ability to buy saplings and have them planted by people who have greener thumbs.
This farm needs a massive rehab. Was all I could think of.
I’ll need money.
Lots of money.
Thank God cash flow management was a subject included in the curriculum.
That was six months ago.
Fast Forward To Today
We now have a store right beside the highway which helps fund the daily needs of the farm.
We’ve had 2 harvests of coconuts for copra and two for coconut juice.
After much consideration, we’ve decided to shift the focus of the farm to durian. It took us a solid ten days to map the entire farm out and determine just how many trees we can manage to plant within the property.
The comfortable number we reached, 800 trees. 850 if we make the spaces between the trees closer. 1000 if we really push it and 1200 if we include the entire property from front to back placing trees in all of the lots.
What’s doable at this time based on the manpower and finances available is 800 trees.
Thus, the road to 800.
We’ve also decided to plant dwarf coconut trees to replace the ones we’re taking down. Dwarf coconut trees yield more nuts and are easier to harvest therefore minimizing the need for more manpower when the time comes.
We’re looking at 300 dwarf coconut trees planted just a meter within the perimeter of the entire lot area excluding the one at the back for management and security purposes.
We’re also adding avocados to act as a perimeter guide between the properties. These trees will also serve as ready to collect snacks for my son and his cousins if they should choose to do so in the future.
We’re looking at 50 avocado trees for starters with the intent to increase that number to 100 or 200 if space permits. Additional fencing material will be mahogany and madre de cacao trees cut to 8 feet high for security and privacy within the property.
Other Trees/Plants We’re Planning To Include So Far Are:
Here are other trees and plants we are planning to include within the property.
Note: planting of these trees will happen when the planting phases for the durian and coconut are done. Durian is divided into 2 phases of 400 trees to be planted per six months. This is to ensure that there is a rolling harvest period per sector.
Dwarf coconuts on the other hand will be planted right after completion of each durian planting phase. Target is to plant the dwarf coconuts as quickly as possible so as to have enough time to plant these other trees:
5 to 10 trees planted within 10 meters of the future farm house where my family will reside. This will be for Lyle’s future snacks because he really likes eating it. Fruits he will not be able to eat will be sold as part of the farm’s produce.
We already have a couple of evergreen marang. The plan is to add 5 more trees spaced throughout the farm property. This is not a very saleable fruit but is still a delicious snack for those who come across it.
We’ve already started propagating these trees. I hope to be able to produce 50 saplings or so to act as part of the perimeter wall.
We currently have two areas with bananas. We’ll maintain these areas for the carinderia (soon to rise) to serve to patrons. Increase the number to 500 trees for each area. We already have an expert banana caretaker living within the premises.
10 to be planted near each house. 2 trees allotted for each house located within the property. Unharvested fruit will be reserved for each household’s consumption.
600 seeds currently in germination stages. I am hoping to produce at least a hundred plants out of that lot.
A Variety Of Pepper Plants
This is a plan already set in motion before I took over. The results weren’t up to our expectations. We’ll renew our efforts to get the results we want this time.
Vegetables to be planted around the durian trees include eggplants, okra, tomatoes, radish.
Here’s hoping we can figure out how to create a hydroponic system for planting even more vegetables within a limited area.
We’ve more plans. As soon as the money comes in, we’ll set them in motion and hope to chronicle our journey here.
Put Up A Food Place
This is something we’ve been planning from the start. The sad thing is, food places cost money to put up. But through some efficient cash flow management, we will get to this part of our journey.
So far, what we already provide at the store includes barbecued chicken and pork, fried bananas (whenever available), and instant noodles that tired travelers looking for a quick meal and a place to rest.
We’ve already built a much bigger barbecue grill with the intent to add tuna panga and others. We’ve also bought a table and some chairs. We’re planning to buy more tables and chairs next week.
We have excess durian saplings that we’d like to sell off. These durian saplings are already 3 feet tall and have received a generous amount of fertilizer. This is going to be positioned in front of the farm a little to the side of the store for easy access and high visibility.
We hope to cater to those farms in need of saplings within Calinan area only. Particularly those near Lacson.
This is something I am fascinated about and hope to achieve with whatever resources we have here.
Breed egg laying chickens like Australorps. These chickens will be free range and serve more than just that one purpose which is to lay eggs. Chickens also help clean the surroundings and cut grass, eat pests, and provide meat in the future.
Dead chickens can be used as fertilizer. Their poop can also be used as fertilizer.
Some may even end up as our pets.
I used to have a thousand worms in my care. I hope to care for thousands more and use them to clean up our food waste. The vermiculite can be used as organic fertilizer and soil enricher within the property. We can also sell it to hardcore plantitos and plantitas.
I once saw an old workmate care for mushrooms. I was inspired. If he can do it, so can I. and I have even more space than he does so I should have the same results if not better, right?
This is still up for debate.
That’s It For Now
Now you know what this city boy farmer is planning. Here’s hoping I manage to successfully tick off some of the items listed. I’ll also probably need to revive my YouTube channel so I can make videos.
And if you want to support us, you can leave us a like, share this, or send money through GCash, Maya, or Paypal. Generous donors will have trees named after them with a consistent monthly report on the trees they’ve adopted.
Yeah, we’re planning to make an adopt a tree program too. I’m still working out the kinks. It’s like owning a farm of your own without really having to do any hard work and still reaping some benefits like a percentage of the harvest for that particular tree. It’s like becoming a city boy farmer or city girl farmer without getting your hands dirty.
More on that later.
Oh yeah… You’re probably wondering why I’m revealing such grandiose plans… well… here’s why:
- It’ll motivate me to succeed as a city boy farmer.
- It makes the plan somewhat tangible.
- If someone steals my idea and succeeds, then I’ll have something to copy. I can basically learn from them and try to replicate what worked and avoid what doesn’t.
- If it inspires someone to do something, then I’ve done my job on Earth.