From Wasteland to Wonderland: Transforming a degraded, barren land into a sustainable organic farm resort

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By BONG D. FABE, Contributing Editor
August 12, 2019

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SUKAILANG, Surigao City—In these days of increased concern over health, food security, resource scarcity and deteriorating environment, including climate change and its impacts on life and community, there is nothing more refreshing than sitting in a rustic cottage while breathing in the fresh scent of mountain air and eyes feasting on the greenery nearby and on the blue horizon beyond as the warm sunlight cuts through the leaves swaying in the cool breeze.
    
Such picturesque scene is hard to find that it almost becomes mythical — an ideal place that cannot be reached but yet being yearned after — for cityzens whose senses have been sensitized by the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.
    
But is living or working in such a place just an ideal? 
    
Such challenge was faced head on by a chemical engineer from Siargao. 
    
Armed with nothing but his resourcefulness and 1,000 square meters of barren and degraded land, Engr. Woodrow Escobal Jr. slowly built a legacy in Barangay Sukailang that organic farmers, environmentalists, ecologists and other food security experts will be very proud of.
    
JB Nature Farm and Resort. The organic farm resort that bears his and his wife’s and their children’s name was built NOT as a resort or a demonstration farm but as a “family garden.”
    
“We started just for our own food sufficiency; for the family only. But we cannot prevent visitors from coming and spreading the word about us,” Engr. Jun Escobal told this writer.
    
Perched on top of Sukailang, which has the the highest elevation in the entire Surigao City at 75 meters (246.063 feet) above sea level, JB Nature Farm and Resort stands on land once left to the elements after loggers and miners stripped the area of trees and mineral deposits. 
    
Using the principles and techniques of permaculture, regenerative agriculture, and natural farming and applying it to their area’s rolling terrain, the Escobal couple—Jun and his wife, Dr. Bessie Escobal—slowly built back what was lost in Sukailang — forest and wild animals.
    
“Many visitors come to us and congratulate us for maintaining the environment of this place. But this was not like this when wefirst acquired a small plot of land here,” the soft-spoken chemical engineer said. (To be continued)

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