The story behind a Zambales farm’s decision to go soilless

There are many techniques in farming that cater to the different growing conditions that farmers have to deal with. For example, there’s the use of natural inputs to produce healthy and chemical free food. For Rafael Lardizabal Pagaling, founder and owner of Zennor Hydroponics Farm in Palauig, Zambales, the niche for him was soilless farming. 

“In April 2015, we bought a plot in Zambales that was supposedly to be put up as a private kindergarten school. But we ended up farming instead. We planted hundreds of dorset mangoes, rice, vegetables, as well as [raising] some chickens and a carabao,” Pagaling said. However, his interest in farming has diverted from the conventional way when he became inspired with the European way of growing food.

Rafael Lardizabal Pagaling travelled to different countries to learn about hydroponic farming systems. Over the course of 2015, Pagaling visited different farms with David Robert Parsons, a British national, in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe where he learned as much as he could from other farmers. By the end of the year, he met Marilou Stromgren, a Filipina nurse based in Zambales at the time. 

“She introduced me to an Italian who we decided to call Mr. Pino. He was working in Indonesia as a hydroponics consultant and installer. We exchanged ideas and some of the knowledge that I gained during my travels,” Pagaling said. By 2016, Pagaling began hydroponics farming and he asked his three brothers, Rene, Michael, and Jonathan to help start building a greenhouse measuring 12 by 14 feet that can hold 700 green leafy vegetables and 72 fruit-bearing vegetables.

Read more at Manila Bulletin (Patricia Bianca Taculao)

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