Plant to Plate: a trip to an organic farm in Tarlac

Magtanim hindi biro, maghapon nakayuko, ‘di naman makatayo, ‘di naman makaupo…” So goes the classic Philippine folk song, which sings (in a very upbeat manner I might add) about  how farm work is no joke, how you’re bent over the entire day while you plant, and that you can’t sit down or straighten up to stand. And as a bunch of us city folks whose day jobs likely include a lot of sitting around joined a group of organic farmers to plant rice in Capas, Tarlac, that song was constantly referred to and hummed.

So how did I end up, in the middle of a rice field, ankle deep in mud, holding a bunch of rice seedlings, bent over and with the song playing in my head?

Good Food Co.This was the invite. My vegetarian sister who writes about “meals for the meatless in Manila” in her well-written blog, Schlepping in the City (she says, she schleps, I slouch) gets her bag of organic veggies from the Good Food Community, which supports a cooperative of farmers from a rural town in a province known for its rice farming.

When she made her first trip to the farm in Capas back in May for a birthday cookout, to meet the farmers who raise the veggies she buys, and even get to harvest some vegetables on her own, I told her I wanted to join her in their next trip to the farm. And their next trip turned out to be all about getting schooled in planting rice by the Good Food farmers.

It looked pretty simple enough: farmers Tay Rolly, Tay Pedring and Nay Susan took us to the fields where two rice paddies in all its squishy, wet muddy glory were waiting. There were shrieks, a lot of nervous laughing, and saying goodbye to any sort of footwear. I actually liked how the mud felt under my feet–not so much how hard it was to walk through it. After half an hour bent over and planting those seedlings I would find myself trying to sit down on the mud in between  every couple of seedlings planted. It was only the three-year-old kid of one of the other volunteers who thought this was a good idea.

Farmers and volunteers...

The mud was so thick, it was best to walk the paddies barefoot

One rice paddy down! Another one to go

One rice paddy down! Another one to go


One of the farmers who taught us how to go about planting the rice. I think he’s going over and redoing what we planted. Haha!

Two rice paddies completed by around 10 to 15 other people and I was still exhausted. (Yes, song, you are SO right!) I was never going to waste another grain of rice ever again.

Afterward, we got to sit down and listen to Tay Abel and Tay Pedring about the entire process of planting rice and how to make a natural fungicide from a mixture of ginger, garlic, beer and molasses. And after all that rice planting and garlic and ginger peeling and slicing, there was a whole lot of food. Read my sister’s better written and more detailed post on the Plant to Plate Tour here. Below are more photos of the delicious food and a peek into one of the greenhouses built thanks to the Fund a Farmer efforts of Good Food.


A veggie feast of kangkong burger, kinilaw ng puso ng saging, puso ng saging spring roll, dinamitas, steamed okra and eggplant, pancit and the Kapampangan favorite that is buro

They also practice crop rotation

A field of eggplant bushes. The farmers practice crop rotation so they also plant peanuts, chilies and other crops here

Nay Cely showing the greenhouse...

Nay Cely showing her own greenhouse of lettuce, arugula and other greens, which fill up the basket of veggies for Good Food’s stakeholders

My sister picking some arugula

My sister and I got to pick some arugula from Nay Cely’s greenhouse


Lovely greens! When I got home, I tossed it in a pasta of garlic, olive oil, cheese and a bit of bacon.


8 thoughts on “Plant to Plate: a trip to an organic farm in Tarlac

  1. Thanks for the wonderful post! I hope we do get to harvest the rice we helped plant come September/October. And I’m a flexitarian 🙂

  2. This is a really great post, Mabes! 🙂 Do you know that this is actually on my bucket list? Planting rice, I mean. Just once, I want to try it. It would probably astound my mom and make her roll her eyes because I am so not a green thumb, hahaha!

  3. Thanks, Ters! I didn’t know this was in your bucket list. It was really a great experience–exhausting but good (and I didn’t even have to finish one rice paddy by myself). Next time you’re in town I’ll let you know if there will be another trip to the farm for some rice planting 🙂

  4. Yummy! I have a weakness for arugula. Jealous that you got to pick it fresh from the farm.

    I just wish there were more organic vendors here in Manila – I’m starting to get fat from all the unhealthy fast food choices.

      • Wow!! I didn’t know there was actually an organization such as Good Food Co.! Will definitely try this and recommend it to others via my facebook page. Good news should always be spread 🙂 Thank you and interestingly enough, I also started my blog this year when I came back from Japan.

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