MARAGONDON, Cavite - Terra Verde Ecofarm and Resort started as a ‘prescription’ to his brother’s medical condition 11 years ago, but its owner has gone beyond that by “glamorizing” it.

Terra Verde Ecofarm and Resort owner Eric Atanacio said on Thursday that he had the farm transformed and “glamourized” and now emerged as a pioneering accredited site under the Department of Tourism (DOT) agri-tourism program in this upland Cavite town.

Atanacio added that his eco-farm and resort is also a certified learning site of Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), an extension and training arm of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Let’s glamourize farming that creates impact and shun from the norms that farming is for the poor, the dirty, and those who cannot afford a college education,” he shared.

Born with a ‘silver spoon,’ Atanacio is one of the heirs to the family-run National College of Science and Technology (NCST), a tertiary private academic institution in Cavite with campuses along the Emilio Aguinaldo Highway and near the Congressional Avenue East in the university city of Dasmariñas.

He shared that through his brother, Emerson’s gift of vision, the family decided to buy the forested lot in Maragondon they spotted at the buy and sell ads, and from there they started their journey as farmers.

He looked back to see their agriculture venture of the  Terra Verde Ecofarm, which now offers 100 percent fresh, natural and safe food harvests and a perfect venue for educational tours, team building, parties and farm-stay.

In an interview, the agri-preneur also shared the Advantages of being an agri-tourism site with both the DOT and ATI assistance in developing the learning and eco-farm sites.

Atanacio said they adopted the business model "3E within an E" referring to the E-named brothers and their father and shaped the business into the 3Es to entertain through agri-tourism, educate through agri-education and eco-farm within the context of enterprise development.

“Sinasama ko nalang ipromote sa mga (I include) tourism promotions, school tours, and for other guests such as one of the host sites for the ASEAN Senior Officials’ events in Tagaytay City,” he sasid.

He also posed the challenge for those who aspire in agri-tourism ventures to lead the way for others through a knowledge and learning-sharing environment.

“Calabarzon has a very cohesive community, we don’t see each other as competitions, we help each other, we nurture each other like sharing and learning from me because it is not only about the features of the farm that make it unique, but also the experience,” the agri-tourism farmer-businessman shared.

His eco-farm resort is now an ideal site where one could spend a day experiencing a laid-back farm lifestyle or better yet spend a night in the tiny houses called “kubins” and commune with nature.

The agri-tourism farm also offers the experience to stargaze at night while on bonfire and have a front row seat early in the morning for a concert of birds.

It is also an agricultural school on safe food production and integrated diversified organic farming system.

He also divulged that they have hired graduates because “they display very promising attitude, very competent and their display of enthusiasm” and also act as a force multiplier to ATI who calibrate what needs to be taught.

He hopes that farming will be reintegrated in the school curriculum like during his time until he thought that it was stopped when the country ushered in the computerization which shifted the interests of. the people to modernization.

He also offered advice to farmers to have fallback other than the monocrop because a disaster may strike and damage their farms and for students to pursue relevant courses under the TESDA given the good support from the government.

Citing subdivisions with open fields, Atanacio said that those not cultivated by the developers may be transformed into community gardens to level that people are given equity, for instance, cultivating, cleaning, watering and guarding the communal garden as a good start.

The successful agri-tourism entrepreneur advised “just enjoy what you’re doing, don’t aim for something instantly big and don’t be afraid to start from scratch, it’s a long journey but you have to start.” (PNA)