"There are a few places that inspire wanderlust with just a single photo, Alhibé Farm, is one of those", according to Spot.PH.
ALHIBÉ, is a boutique farm which also got its name from the Visayan word which means “water reservoir”. The farm is developed using Permaculture Principles and is a growing arboretum of Bamboo and Philippine Native Trees. This also started as a weekend project for the tree hugger owners who constantly seek respite away from the city to recharge in nature, and from there it continues to evolve, from being just a private getaway, to offering exclusive farm stay, to opening AGWAS Cafe which caters to walk in customers and to offering workshops and camps to help promote sustainability and ecological consciousness.
Interestingly the first land development was inspired by the owner’s round inflatable pool that their daughter uses every time they go up to this mountain farm located in Carmen Cebu. Before, it was all just bushes and weeds, and the inflatable pool that catches the spring water that flows out of the source. At the same time, a lot of ideas and inspiration sprang and flowed in as the spring water flows. Then the permanent concrete round pool was then created right on the spot where the inflatable pool used to be.
The D.I.Y. pool was designed to have a small overflow, where the excess water helps drive out dried leaves & other organic matters out of the pool by allowing it to flow out naturally. The excess water also flows to a manmade stream that can be used to water the plants it passes by. Soon it will feed the farm’s fishing pond.
The lot used to be a conventional farm, exploited and treated with chemicals. So the new owners who also considered themselves Stewards of the land, decided to let it rest and heal itself for about two years for soil regeneration, while simultaneously working on the plans and designs.
ARBORETUM OF BAMBOO & NATIVE TREES
While waiting, the owners planted a lot of bamboo in the perimeter—fruit and native trees, and some perennial plants that will serve as a base of the ecosystem they wanted to create. The owners considered themselves as the stewards of Alhibé, in charge of planning, designing, and developing the farm in line with Permaculture Principles.
FOOD FOREST & EDIBLE LANDSCAPES
From the start we had people in the community involved in the development by hiring the needed manpower. No chemicals were ever used in the planting. The landscape design involves more edible food to create a food forest. Instead of planting ornamentals, we made sure to plant herbs, root crops and other edible plants around the area. The areas that are not yet being developed are left to mother nature’s care. Allowing it to be covered with natural vegetation and some with nitrogen fixers, help the soil regenerate back to its best state.
The Kaduyanan area, that we opted to retain the natural vegetation, the young trees in it, are just being worked around as a lounge area where hammocks and pathways are added. A spot where one can simply commune with nature by laying down the full body weight in hammocks under the tree canopies.
The main hut which is the very first structure in the area came next. It was designed with an A-frame structure, with only one bedroom, and open kitchen and dining area at the ground floor. Its design intention is to keep just a thin division between the outdoors and the indoors, and to serve as a shelter from heat and rain, and other natural elements. Its openness is really intended for one to spend more time outdoors rather than indoors.
The outdoor bathroom was the second structure built. This was located at the lower part downhill, so we would not need to install water pumps for the toilet and showers to operate. Gravity from the main spring water source just flows to the tanks downhill naturally.
The patag or grass area was not at all flat from the start. The entire lot was mostly a sloping terrain, so we identified the area where we can cut the land and fill in, so we can create the flat or “patag” (in Bisaya) area. Initially stones were gathered to form the stone base or riprap that will hold the soil that will be cut from the opposite side, until it fills the entire layout of the intended flat or grass area. This was one laborious move, but owners were happy to spend it more on labors, than on materials, since materials are just from the land itself. The grass area had played such a wonderful role ever since, to hold bigger gatherings.
The Bantawan is another covered structure built for gatherings of smaller group. Here groups can dine and even do yoga and some lectures. This is the first bamboo structure in the farm. The owner created their own D.I.Y. bamboo treatment drum using the salt-based method, and the first treated bamboo they had are used in the structure of the bantawan.
The farm, aside from using permaculture principles, also went in the direction of promoting the importance of bamboo and in building with bamboo sustainably. In connection to this, they tested it first if their treatment method would las for more than 2 years. And yes their first treated bamboo surpassed it successfully as seen in the bantawan. This in turn made the owners confident in moving on with building their villas and the rest of the structure using bamboo building method, which they had applied in the recent bamboo café they opened in the farm.
The Bamboo Café which the farm recently opened was named AGWAS. The word Agwas comes from the Visayan term which means a water system source in respect and appreciation to the Farm's existing spring water source that has provided clean drinking water for generations to the surrounding mountain communities. This is a small shop, which also serves as the farm’s reception and a public space where visitors can gather, experience and appreciate the space built using bamboo and the surrounding natural ambiance.
To reduce the building footprint while achieving the required capacity, the space is meticulously planned to scoot over those spaces in between existing trees and steep terrain so the users can sit openly under the tree canopies through different lounge spaces. In the pandemic time, these small separate sitting areas fits the requirement while at the same time promotes immersions to nature.
GREENER PLANET FROM THIS TINY RIPPLE
The farm is still an ongoing development that continues to promote the use of sustainable materials in building structures, the use of natural farming, and spread education and awareness about food sustainability. Soon this Food Forest and Edible Landscapes will help guests specially the future generations, appreciate where we get our food from, appreciate the use of bamboo and how to build with it, and the important roles native trees contribute in our ecosystem, from the ripples of this piece of land.
The minds behind the farm's development are Marvin & Sheryl, who wholeheartedly poured so much love and effort into the place.