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OLD MacDonald had a farm and when he retired at age 70, his children didn’t want to carry on with the planting and harvesting. One reason, if you haven’t heard, is that planting rice is never fun.
Now there’s a charming way to farm, so much so that the owners of the farm don’t even have to live there. It’s farming but it’s got one eye on tourism (the other eye being on farming, presumably). Farm tourism, it’s called.
Examples: Ilog Maria and Gourmet Farm in Silang, Cavite, where the former is a bee farm and artisans turn out soap, candles, mosquito repellents, shampoo, while the latter grows herbs and rents out a row of serene-looking suites that are perfect for spiritual retreats (or couples who are about to take the plunge, no retreating). Nurture Wellness Village in nearby Tagaytay is a bigger concept combining healing and honeymoons, spa and spaciousness for yoga, detox, weight-loss, glamping (glamorous camping), plus a nature’s farmacy. Flower Farm in Alfonso mightily displays the power of flowers to fascinate and enchant.
The beautiful thing about farm tourism, according to Mina Gabor, former secretary of tourism whose first order of business then was to demand clean and comfortable comfort rooms in travel stops and spots, is that you only need 500 sqm – nothing like an hacienda the size of Luisita – to join this promising trend. Farm tourism accounts for 22 percent of tourism in general all over the world, and as the business blooms, tourists are staying longer (four days) and spending more (R5,150 a day).
If I had a green thumb and more than a dozen flowerpots, I would join Mina and her team of organizers, sponsors and farmers at their 4th Farm Tourism Conference unfolding at the Summit Ridge Hotel in Tagaytay July 14-16 in what promises to be a refreshing seminar cum fam-and-farm tours. To all first-time investors, Mina advises, “Make sure you have a nice restroom and a counter to meet visitors and answer their questions.” Follow Facebook 4th Farm Tourism Conference. Before you know it, you’re in business! (Jullie Y. Daza)