Nestled amid the breathtaking landscapes of Barangay Masicong in the City of San Fernando, La Union, stands not just a farm, but a sanctuary of love and transformation – The Ibit’s Integrated Farm. At its helm is Manuel “Manny” G. Acosta, a retired civil engineer who has rewritten his life in the most remarkable way – by evolving into a passionate and dedicated organic farmer.
𝘈 𝘎𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘗𝘶𝘴𝘩 𝘛𝘰𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘢 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘦𝘯 𝘋𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘮
This profound transformation began with a nudge, gentle but persistent, from Manny’s wife, Ibit, leading to the establishment of their farm in 2016. Manny fondly recalls, “Bakit ako nagfarming? Tinulak ako ng aking misis, ng aking pamilya na magfarming,” his eyes lighting up with a smile as he chuckled.
Manny didn’t see farming in his future, but he embraced it not just as a personal challenge, but also as a means to support local farmers in their community. Initially, The Ibit’s Integrated Farm relied on conventional farming methods. However, the desire for safe, chemical-free food ignited Manny and his wife’s journey into organic farming.
𝘈 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘓𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘎𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘵𝘩
The transition to organic farming wasn’t without its challenges. Manny, with no prior experience in farming, embarked on a learning journey alongside his assistant, Renato “Soter” Gurion. They attended training sessions on organic farming at Costales Farm in Majayjay, Laguna, and Teraoka Farm in Mangatarem, Pangasinan. These experiences played a vital role in shaping their approach to organic farming.
It took them three years of unwavering dedication to fully transition to organic farming in 2019, driven by their commitment to safe and healthy food. Their path was fraught with obstacles, with typhoons and the unpredictable effects of climate change posing persistent threats to their crops.
𝘈 𝘛𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘢𝘮𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘗𝘦𝘳𝘴𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘤𝘦
Despite the odds, Manny persevered. He took proactive steps to develop their farm, including the construction of a traditional “bahay kubo” for an adopted farmer and his family.Their dedication and hard work bore fruit in 2019 when the farm earned accreditation from the Agricultural Training Institute as a recognized learning site for agriculture. Additionally, the Department of Tourism acknowledged The Ibit’s Integrated Farm as an agri-tourism destination in La Union. Their tagline, “Ang bukid-tangi sa La Union na nagtatanim ng pag-ibig,” beautifully embodies their commitment to both farming and community.
𝘈 𝘎𝘳𝘰𝘸𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘓𝘦𝘨𝘢𝘤𝘺
The farm now boasts essential facilities, including a training center, vermicomposting unit, rest area, and a mini rice mill for both brown and regular rice. A robust water system ensures the farm’s sustainability.
Their diverse produce includes blue ternate, pole string beans, okra, ampalaya, rice, and more. They also cultivate miracle fruits or calabash, with plans for further expansion. Their produce reaches customers through various channels, including online platforms like Facebook, as well as sales to government offices, the city government, and the provincial capitol.
𝘗𝘶𝘳𝘴𝘶𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢 𝘝𝘪𝘴𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘗𝘎𝘚 𝘊𝘦𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯
Manny’s vision extends beyond his farm, as he strives to obtain Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) certification. PGS certification would validate their commitment to organic farming and product quality, while also addressing the costliness of third-party certification. Manny passionately asserts, “Totoo kaming nagprapraktis, totoo ang produkto namin na organik.”
With the unwavering support of the City Agriculture Office of San Fernando, their core group – PGS San Fernando La Union Inc. – was formed, and they now eagerly await the final inspection for accreditation.
𝘈 𝘚𝘩𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘑𝘰𝘶𝘳𝘯𝘦𝘺 𝘈𝘩𝘦𝘢𝘥
Looking forward, Manny envisions that their core group will continue to grow, accrediting more farmers from La Union with the assistance and support from the city government, the Department of Agriculture, and the Agricultural Training Institute.
The Ibit’s Integrated Farm’s vision beautifully aligns with that of the province of La Union’s, to become the heart of agri-tourism in Northern Luzon by 2025.
𝘈 𝘉𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘏𝘰𝘱𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘜𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘺
Manny Acosta’s journey from a civil engineer to an organic farmer serves as a testament to the power of passion, commitment, and a shared love for the land and its people. In San Fernando City, La Union, The Ibit’s Integrated Farm stands as a beacon of hope, cultivating not just crops but also love, unity, and a brighter future within the community.