Here is one organic farm that you would love to visit if you happen to be in Iloilo and you are interested not only in enjoying Mother Nature but also in picking up practical ideas that you can adopt or improve on in your own leisure farm project. This is the Damires Hills Leisure Farm in Brgy. Damires in the town of Janiuay.
Damires Hills was started in 2010 by Dr. Louie Tirador, a 59-year-old cardiologist. This is a 45-hectare property that has been lying idle for 20 years until Dr. Tirador did something about it. The leisure farm is divided into two. Sixteen hectares are devoted to the farm resort which has become a favorite for daytime visitors as well as those staying overnight. The remaining 29 hectares are preserved as forest and for growing food crops.
Managing the resort section is Paolo Tirador, the eldest son who finished a management course at the Ateneo in 2014. Visitors averaging 1,500 a month are attracted by the beautifully landscaped grounds and excellent facilities that include three swimming pools, hotel-like accommodations, a hanging bridge said to be the longest in Iloilo at 270 meters long, canopy walk and a zipline. Of course good food is also an attraction.
Visitors arrive as early as 7 a.m., many of them whole families with their young children. It is a place for family outing as well as for corporate team building, reunions and other occasions.
Another attraction to visitors is the aquaponics showcase in the resort. Dr. Tirador explains that about 2,000 to 2,500 tilapia fingerlings are stocked in a 35-square meter pool. The water is recirculated to supply the water and nutrients needed by the growing lettuce in the soilless medium consisting of fine gravel. In a matter of 30 days, the seedlings are ready for harvest. Every week, according to Dr. Tirador, they can harvest 100 kilos which are used in their own restaurant or sold outside at P160 to P200 per kilo.
Vegetables produced in Damires Hills are not enough for the requirements of the restaurant. That is why in 2020, Dr. Tirador said, they will grow many of the favorite vegetables throughout the year like ampalaya, eggplant, okra, pumpkin, peppers, tomato, sitao, cucumber and many others.
He said they already have a water impounding pond which they used for growing rice previously. But they will make additional ones so that they will be able to produce vegetables year round.