By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Flor G. Tarriela, the chairwoman of the Philippine National Bank, has another role than the one she assumes in the bank. She is also the president of Flor’s Garden, an educational garden destination located in Antipolo, Rizal that teaches its guests to grow healthy plants, identify edible plants and vegetables, and promote wellness among a few things.
In the preceding article, the chairwoman shared the history of Flor’s Garden and how it became engaged in teaching its guests about edible plants as well as medicinal ones. In this article, Tarriela talks about the natural farming practices that they follow and how the garden managed to keep from closing.
Following natural farming practices
“We follow the natural way of farming and the JADAM way,” Tarriela said.
JADAM is more than a set of easy, low-cost farming principles and practices; it’s actually a group of organic farmers that was established in 1991 by a chemist and horticulturist named Youngsang Cho.
According to Tarriela, Flor’s Garden uses various natural inputs such as IMOs (indigenous microorganisms) to provide nutrients to the plants and soil, FPJs (fermented plant juice) for greener leaves, FAA (fish amino acids) to give nutrients and amino acids to plants, OHN (oriental herbal nutrient) for strengthening weak plants, calcium bones and eggshells to induce flowering, and vermicast as a natural fertilizer.
Other than using natural farming inputs, Tarriela said that the secret to growing plants can also be found in the soil.
“The soil is alive. It’s not the green thumb that can only grow plants but rather it’s the soil. If the soil is full of nutrients, the plants will grow. That’s why we use soil conditioners in planting, the chairwoman said.
Some of the soil conditioners that they use include coir dust to maintain moisture, rice hull to avoid water logging during the rainy season, and gravel for plants that need a lot of water but without risking waterlogging.
Because it didn’t start as a business, Flor’s Garden encountered some challenges financially during its early years.
“In 2008, with the subprime financial crises, Finex (or the Financial Executives of the Philippines) asked me to talk about what to do with increases like this. I realized I need to give up my garden as it’s costing me a lot of money,” Tarriela shared.
However, she had second thoughts when the president of Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) and wife of the European Union Ambassador, Brigette McDonald, invited her to talk about her garden and its benefits.
“I realized that gardening has many benefits such as solving the global problem of poverty, garbage, health, and more. So I decided to slowly open it up to friends and guests. By 2012, Flor’s Garden was born,” the PNB chairwoman said.
To stay in business, Flor’s Garden sells cuttings from as low as P5 to P20,000, depending on the plant. It also sells farm inputs and garden kits to help encourage their visitors and others to begin their gardening journey.
“We want to give hope. We advocate healing and wellness by growing your own healthy food with no use of chemicals. The most important is to plant what we eat! The food that we eat is our medicine because prevention is better than cure. Be healthy!,” Tarriela said.
This article appeared in Agriculture Magazine’s July to August 2021 issue.