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Getting in touch with nature at Gran Verde

Wit welcomes the guest of Gran Verde Farms with a short talk.

For Lisabel ‘Wit’ Holganza, a cacao farmer, sustainability is something that everyone can strive for – and not just something to talk about.

This story appeared on Page 10 of the February 26, 2020 issue of Mindanao Times. Click on the photo to download a copy.

Last February 22, we were treated to an educational tour at Wit’s family estate, the Gran Verde Farms in Calinan. She showed cacao and the interaction of plants and trees to each other that influence the taste of the produce. Wit has been seeking the assistance and input of environmentalist Ric Obenza in her effort to foster the Natural Farming method in nurturing her farm. “I have so much to learn,” says Wit. “Ric has told me that I need to observe and understand the subtle nuances of nature – even where the wind blows at a certain time in my location.”

The superfood Cacao!

Gran Verde Farms currently has 4,000 cacao trees which she had planted with mangoes. “But our mangoes have not been given fertilizers now since we stopped spraying chemical fertilizers to them,” Wit shares. “For four years now, they have not borne fruit since but I feel that it is best to let these trees rest. Maybe they will give us fruits when they have recovered.”

While the agri-tourism is a growing industry, Wit asserts that this is not the direction that their family estate is taking. “We can accommodate learners and those who wish to take a retreat from the busy life but not to the point of serving them as in a resort. As of now, our vision is to let the guests be in a space with a garden around the cottage so that they will be the one to pick their own food.”

Guest Horst Hellmann opens a Cacao with Wit.

“Also, we do not grow our products to cater to the market but we are using it for our own sustainability. The goal is to encourage people to go back to nature and to be more self-sufficient. How can we encourage sustainability if we keep asking them to buy, buy, and buy?” Wit said.

Wit believes that working with nature opens up endless possibilities for business and especially for growth and healing – and this is what she continues to share.

Guest Kasandra Bantayan tries opening a Cacao with Wit.

Her daughter Bianca has also been the genius behind Wit’s Savory Sweets products that Gran Verde Farms produce.

Guests of Gran Verde Farms and the farm team strike a pose

While it is true that this endeavor has placed them in a good market position, the growth of their family relationship has also taken a significant space in their effort. Such growth is perhaps the best perk brought about by working with nature.

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