Sunday, June 6, 2010

A FIRST-HAND LOOK AT ORGANIC FARMING

Early Saturday morning a small group of us, all seniors, headed some 40 minutes north of the city to DQ Farm. Later I realized that day was also World Environment Day. What a coincidence, and how appropriate that we should spend the day out in the countryside getting acquainted with organic food production and learning about the huge impact conventional farming has on our environment.

Our host and farm owner, HS Wong, is a walking encyclopedia on all things pertaining to sustainable farming. I am awed by this man's unstoppable energy and passion to educate farmers and lay folks like us about sustainable farming and living.

Here's a pictorial account of our visit:

Sitting down to a welcome tea brewed with mulberry leaves. Notice the table cloth of banana leaves.
First, a brief introduction on the operational model of a sustainable micro-farm. Click on image to enlarge.
DQ Farm's model of how to maximize yield per acre.
Anti-bacterial spraying before we begin our walkabout.
Learning about composting. All waste is recycled, including chicken carcasses. The end result is quality humus that is used as fertilizer.
The farm rears fish too. DQ farm produces its own fish feed.
Grass-fed, hormone-free chickens. DQ farm takes pride in rearing chickens that have a high DHA of Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio of 4:1.
Tonic for the chickens. We had a sip of it too. A potent concoction!
I swear the dragon fruits and the mangoes on the farm are the sweetest and juiciest I've ever eaten. DQ farm is the first to grow organic watermelon. Pity they were all harvested when we were there.
Bananas are a good example of permaculture. They practically thrive on their own. On DQ farm they grow in clumps together with ginger.
Admiring a pumpkin bed. Vegetables like sawi, pegaga and banyam flourish in the chemical-free, nutrient-rich soil.
Some plants (top) are used as natural insect repellants. Vines like the 'patah wali' above have anti-inflammatory properties. I licked a cutting. It left a bitter taste on my tongue that stayed for hours.
Whether it's ants, crickets or worms, all creatures big and small have a role to play in the farm's rich biodiversity. The ants, for example, get rid of termites that attack the fruit trees.
Over 50 species of birds have been spotted on the farm. They build nests anywhere and everywhere undisturbed. Kim, an avid bird-watcher, alerted me to this nest barely a foot away from us.
Great care is taken to ensure that water for the vegetables is free from contamination. Pipes bring the rainwater collected directly to the vegetables.
The farm's initial experiment with Italian bees failed, so now local bees are kept for their honey.
Time for a break. Enjoying the farm fruits all freshly plucked. The 'straw' for the coconut drink is the stem of some plant whose name escapes me now.
Some of the 150 goats. They feed on organically-grown grass. They are moved to fresh fields every week to reduce the risk of diseases and intestinal problems.
Wild jackfruit (top) and durian trees. None ripe enough for us to sample!
Getting ready to leave with our goody bags of fresh vegetables and bananas. Note: the bags are biodegradable, and made partly of tapioca
Wong insisted on hosting lunch for us at Bentong. Here we are, waiting to tuck into the first two dishes.
Dinner at home last night included a plate of vegetables from DQ farm. This is one plate of veggies whose story I am personally familiar with!

At the end of the 5-hour outing, everyone in our group agreed that it was truly time well-spent. We learned so much that we could immediately apply on our next shopping trip to the supermarket.

Organic food may not necessarily be nutritionally superior to non-organic food. But conventional farming with its heavy reliance on chemical fertilizers and pesticides is detrimental to our environment. Ultimately it is up to us to decide whether to opt for non-organic food or the pricier organic alternative.

My choice? Well, I don't have a garden to grow my own organic food. So the next best thing ? I've just signed up with an organic food retail chain that offers good discounts on purchases. That should be an acceptable compromise.

One of HS Wong's favourite quotes and probably DQ's raison d'etre.

4 comments:

HS said...

Hi Lily, thanks for the generous writeup. BTW those plastic bags are biodegradable made in part from tapioca.

Regards
HS

JB LAUGHERS said...

I enjoyed reading your article, it's informative and the wonderful pictures were self-explanatory too......TQ....Lee-Jean (Ramlean 2009)

Antares said...

Wonderful report, my dear, very inspiring. May more and more of us become eco-friendly and organic!

carol Wong Allen said...

Blessed day Mr.HSWong. May I request yr permission to allow a small group of less than 6 pax to visit yr organic farm. This to allow city ppl to appreciate farming and the recycling process. I can be reach at 012 3908433 or email:- lifeinspire2carol@gmail.com . Thanking you in advance.