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Farm-to-Table training showcases culinary arts and locally produced ingredients

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Malaybalay City, BUKIDNON—Since starting as a concept and now as a mainstay lexicon of farmers and consumers alike, the farm-to-table movement has made a significant impact on the way farming is done, by considering environmental and health benefits as well as a much-needed boost among local businesses. Sustainable farming in the agriculture sector is a game changer in the way modern farmers produce food, and a major step forward in the food system of the country.

“A farm-to-table approach requires putting food on the table that came directly from a specific farm, without going through a store, market, or distributor along the way, which can enhance national food security while fostering the growth of a more environmentally and socially responsible food system and supply chain.”, according to a published article by the National Nutrition Council.

In its recent training activity, the Agricultural Training Institute-Regional Training Center X (ATI-RTC X) in close coordination and partnership with GreenMinds Incorporated, recently conducted a Training on Farm-to-Table for the Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) partners at the Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm in Malaybalay, Bukidnon on October 25-27, 2023.

LSAs are an ideal venue for fellow farmers, farming enthusiasts, and students since they are successful farm owners who are willing to share their farming innovations and technologies right on their own farms. They are also ATI’s partners in the implementation of training and extension interventions to facilitate knowledge transfer and replication of best farming practices and breakthroughs in farming technologies.

With 25 LSA mentees attending the event, the said training tackled bread and pastry, plant-based beverages, organic savory dishes, vegetable soups, and healthy snacks.

In particular, among the food items cooked and prepared include adlai puto, tableya bars, banana tea bread, mushroom patty sliders, kalabasa soup, and coconut custards. Meat-based dishes were also prepared such as pan-seared chicken with herb white sauce paired with Adlai rice and roasted vegetable and roasted pork tenderloin with brown mushroom paired with creamy sweet mashed potato.

“As restaurant owners and operators, our goal has always been to use local ingredients especially those found in our farm. Although we continuously do research, the training on farm-to-table has further enhanced our understanding of the use of different ingredients found in our garden. This has also helped us improve our menu as well as which ingredients we should prioritize in planting (and harvesting). It also opened us to new and creative ideas on the uses of local ingredients, edible flowers, and herbs!

My fellow LSA participants were engaging and, in fact, even through our small talks, I was able to learn from their experiences in running a farm cafe. They were also open about sharing different tips and learnings from their own experiences. Daghan gyud mi natun-an from the experience and looking forward to more”, said Yasha S. Mercader of Test Kitchenette, a family-owned café and catering business of Ilaya Farm in Sumilao, Barangay Kisolon, Bukidnon that caters to, and serves meals, as well as snack items. Ilaya Farm supplies the freshest farm produce and ingredients needed for Test Kitchenette for its go-to menus such as burgers, chilidogs, cheesy fries, loaded fries, roasted native chicken, and nachos.

Chef Khevin Faith Cabactulan of Biga Garden Cafe and Chef Roy Christian Lomarda of Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm (former chef of Shangri-la Makati and SOFITEL) served as the resource persons. Both chefs shared their time, talent, and culinary expertise with the training participants composed of LSAs, partner IPs, and nearby farming communities.

“As this training ended, dako kaayu akung pasalamat sa mga taong ni salig sa akoa to be one of the experts of this farm-to-table training program. I hope that through this I (have) contributed a spark to your desires to open or to start your own farm-to-table businesses, so thankful and grateful to ma’am Rose Mary for sharing my expertise with our modern heroes—our farmers. Thank you so much! I am very thankful for your trust in me. Thank you for trusting Khevin’s Cake Factory and BIGA Garden Café. Sa uulitin!” said Chef Khevin in his social media post.

The farm-to-table movement of the farmers is integral in achieving food sufficiency in the country since farmers play a vital role in making the country food secure.

“Overall, this farm-to-table training offers numerous benefits for our training participants because it equips them with the knowledge and the importance of sourcing out ingredients locally. Sourcing out locally, directly supports farmers to thrive in their farming ventures. Another benefit of using fresh and seasonal ingredients is that it ensures consumers that what they eat is free from harmful chemicals and 100% pesticide-free. Visiting a farm-to-table learning site or farm school is a great way to educate consumers (especially the younger generation) on sustainability, the farming community, and the health benefits of eating fresh food.”, said Umanika Eco-Cultural Farm in-house chef Roy Christian Lomarda. (photo credits also to Candiisan Diversified Farm and Test Kitchenette)