Many local celebrities have noticeably turned to farming either as an investment, a way to cope with stress, a retirement plan—or all of the above. Some of their farms make for great eye candy while others are both wonderful to look at and also making the most of what the properties have to offer.
Jumping on the trend of reaction videos, we asked our friend Carlo The Farmer to tell us what he thinks of a few celebrity farms that he can check out online. What are they doing right? What else can they be doing that can improve their harvest? Just to give us present and future farm-owners pointers we can take note of.
Carlomagno Aguilar is a sustainability advocate and teaches easy, practical farming lessons over at his YouTube channel. He’s worked with The Farm at San Benito and is currently working with Ces Drilon in her Vagabond Farms in Tanauan. His inspiring story, how farming changed his life, and how he’s changing farming in Pampanga can be read here.
Carlo gave us a shortlist of the celebrity farms he likes, and so without further ado, here’s what he has to say about each of them.
Bea Alonzo’s 16-hectare farm in Zambales, which she calls Beati Firma, wins the Well-Manicured and Cleanest Farm Award in Carlo’s book. “The mango trees are organized; they were evenly planted. She’s lucky to have a good caretaker,” he says, referring to Doy, who has been taking charge of the actress’ farm operations for the past eight years.
Carlo likes that Bea’s organic farm is using sustainable energy, which is very ideal for farming. “Solar power is the thing in farming nowadays,” Carlo offers. “Meron na ding solar-powered water pumps para tipid sa gas. Then ang lights ngayon ay solar powered na.”
If there’s anything Bea could maybe consider, it’s to maximize the use of the farm more by putting up a vegetable garden, filled with plants that grow vegetables that are usually consumed. “Ang mangoes kasi every summer lang namumunga kaya dapat may short-term crops para regular ang harvest,” Carlo suggests.
Mayor Goma’s farm
The urban farmer makes an example of Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez’s farm. “Ang tataba ng mga pechay and they are organic. I also like the color of their soil. That’s the soil that vegetables prefer,” he notes. The former actor’s videos on Instagram also shows he also grows chilis, tomatoes, and even mango trees.
A model for sustainable living, Mayor Richard’s farm also grows chickens and geese which are not only a great source of protein but are ideal for farms because “their manure is good for the soil as well (high in nitrogen, good for leafy vegetables).”
Wait, there’s more. The award-winning actor also has an apiary. “They have enough beehives,” notes Carlo, who is also a social entrepreneur. “They can make a business out it.” We’re not particularly sure how big Mayor Richard’s farm is but “it’s a farm that has it all—animals, vegetables, fruits, honey and fertilizer.”
Sharon and Kiko’s farm
Carlo says he enjoyed watching Senator Kiko Pangilinan and wife Sharon Cuneta giving a tour of their farm in Alfonso, Cavite. “[The senator] knows a lot about farming,” he observes. “He knows about the type of crops to grow depending on the elevation, the different trees grown in the farm, and the natural way of handling pests (growing insect repellent and insect attractant plants around the vegetable area).”
What Carlo likes most about their farm—which they call Sweet Spring Country Farm—is the water stream. “Water is gold for farms. If you have your own natural source of water, then you found gold on your farm. It will be your source of water for vegetables, for fishponds, animals and for trees.”
The senator mentioned in the video posted by the Megastar that he visits the farm every week. “Even with his busy schedule, he manages to squeeze in some time for the farm. He seems to be very hands-on in its upkeep,” he says.
Zsa Zsa’s farm
Zsa Zsa Padilla’s Esperanza Farms looks more like a resort and a forest garden with a lot of ornamental plants, observes Carlo, noting the pool and the big house built on it. “They have a bamboo forest, which is important for sustainable farming and architecture. We always recommend farms to have their own bamboos, so they can build houses, trellises for vegetables, tables and chairs and many more,” he says.
A farm-to-table advocate himself, Carlo likes that the Divine Diva can source some of her food from her farm. “They have a small portion for rice production, pandan, cassava and labong (from bamboos),” he says.
Boy Abunda’s farm in Lipa has a forest feel to it. “It’s not manicured, more on natural talaga,” Carlo notes. It has lot of fruit trees "pero they're not clustered per type of fruit tree." Which is a style some farmers prefer. Abunda’s farm also has a variety of fruits such as calamansi, chesa, guyabano, bayabas, dragon fruit, buko, pineapple, rambutan, banana forest trees.
An example of a high-yielding urban farm is the one owned by Neri Miranda. “It’s not a big farm but it’s big enough to feed her family,” observes Carlo. He also likes that Neri is very hands-on in taking care of her farm. “Among the celebrity farm owners I watched, I think she’s the one who really gets her hands dirty. She has a lot of crops—from root crops to vegetables. And she shows how she cooks her own harvest.”
Former TV news anchor and ANCX executive editor Ces Drilon actually has a farm, too—it’s called Vagabond Farms. As per Carlo, who’s doing consultancy for the Tanauan, Batangas farm, they grow everything organically there. “We have our own recipe of concoctions that we apply to our fruits and vegetables. We also have 20 worm beds and we put all our grass clippings and leaves to the worm bins to convert them into organic fertilizer,” he shares.
Their fruit trees are still small because they had just started growing them last year. But they are already harvesting vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, roselle, patola, kangkong, and eggplant. “We also grow herbs and we plant them on pots which Mam Ces Drilon sells on bazaars. She also formulates her own alcohol and oils using herbs and other leaves found in the farm,” he adds. “Sir Ricky [Carandang, Ces’ partner] and Mam Ces gave strict instructions that no chemicals will be applied to the soil to keep it healthy.”