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Farmer's No-Till 'Garden of Eden' Thrives in Philippines

Using no-till and no commercial fertilizers, the American expat and his family grow dozens of crops on the more than 30-acre farm.

John Phillips’ no-till farm in the Philippines is a Garden of Eden, producing dozens of crops without tillage or commercial inputs.

Phillips, formerly of Bloomsburg, Penn., lives on a more than 30-acre farm in Batangas, Philippines, with his wife and 10-year-old daughter. They grow dozens of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and flowers, including:

  • Dalandan
  • Key lime (calamansi)
  • Papaya
  • Bananas
  • Dragon fruit
  • Passion fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Pomelo
  • Guava
  • Star apple
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Oregano
  • Basil 
  • Other herbs and seasonings
  • Coconut
  • Squash
  • Loofah
  • Mango
  • Moringa
  • Malabar spinach
  • Mung beans
  • Yardlong beans 
  • Bush beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes 
  • Cabbage

Crops are grown using no-till and no commercial fertilizers or pesticides. Phillips says the added expense of commercial inputs doesn’t make financial sense, and the potential for crop damage isn’t worth the risk. Instead, he uses homemade organic pesticides, fertilizers and a hydroponic solution for their crops. 

“The most caustic thing we use is baking soda and Neem oil with a few drops of liquid hand soap, dried cow manure and compost,” Phillips says.

His organic methods have encouraged more good insects and fewer pests that cause damage. Low-cost mosquito nets keep out most of the pests, Phillips says.

In December, Phillips prepared about an acre and a half for growing mung beans. He raked the topsoil, dried leaves, sawdust and aged cow manure on the plot without doing any tilling and scattered the mung bean seeds. He didn’t add any pesticides or man-made fertilizers to help them grow. 

“I only watered a few times in the…

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Michaela paukner

Michaela Paukner

Michaela Paukner is the associate editor of Strip-Till Farmer and Precision Farming Dealer. Her previous journalism experience includes working as a reporter for a legal magazine and as a producer for two Wisconsin TV news stations. She has also worked with clients across the globe as a freelance writer and marketing consultant, and as a brand manager for a Wisconsin-based boutique marketing agency. She's a graduate of UW-Green Bay.

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