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Atbang's Blog

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Water

The significance of water, or H2O, in terms of life cannot be understated. We depend on it. We die without it. Such is its importance that astronomers scrutinise the atmospheres of exoplanets for signs of it, knowing the significance of a finding would be huge. Water means life. 

So, back on Earth, where extremes of weather seem to be the new norm, what does a farmer do when his / her source of water dries up? Despair? Give up? Praying for rain isn't a practical option, (although no one can claim prayers won't be granted.)

Our intrepid farmer went out on a search into unfamiliar parts. She didn't carry scientific instruments, or even a divining rod. The result was good: she found a natural source of water (and didn't fall into it - others would have done).

Yes, a great discovery.

But what if the water had been inaccessible? Or simply too far away? Or at a level that's too low to be usable without pumping? Hard luck. 

Fortunately, this water source was usable, and the solution was to use piping - lots of it, plus connections, plus ingenuity in making use of gravity, where that was necessary.

As a postscript to this little success story, there has been rain, and the original water sources are back. Next time, however, things could be different.

Maybe the answer is to store as much water as possible when its abundant.   

Atbang's Blog

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Big

This cacao pod             is the biggest one we have grown and harvested at Atbang Farm® (not that we're boasting about it, you understand). Anyone who Googles the usual size of cacao pods will read that the weight averages around 400 grams and the length ranges from 8 to 14 inches.

So, by normal standards our pod - weighing 1.2 kilos and measuring 12 inches in length - is in the heavyweight class. For the more technically minded, it is a Clone UIT 1.

Atbang Farm Food Forest is certified organic. Being organic isn’t a trend, it’s a return to tradition, helping to make good things happen, like extra-large cacao pods.

Weighing our pod
Large cacao pod

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Budding Royalty

The Queen: the mangosteen is designated the 'Queen of fruits' after Queen Victoria offered a knighthood to anyone who could bring her a ripe one. The difficulty of transporting fruit from The Philippines to England a century and a half ago cannot be underestimated.

Here are flowering buds from Atbang Farm's mangosteen trees.

mangosteen flower
New mangosteen flower
Mangosteen bud

The King: the durian is designated the 'King of fruits' because of its formidable appearance (think of a lion). We'll pass on the subject of its unique smell. Durians can be bigger than footballs, weigh up to 3 kilos, and are covered in a tough, thorny shell.

Fruit, or medieval weapon?

The taste of durian is either love or hate, heaven or hell. Atbang Farm takes the heavenly option.

In these videos, you are taken on a tour of our durian trees to get a close-up of buds and flowers.

Enjoy the beauty and the natural sounds while you anticipate the majestic fruit that will develop.

Videos can be started and stopped by simply clicking on them.

Atbang's Blog

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Atbang Fine Chocolate being made

Just watch and savour, while imagining the delectable aroma. The sound is the whirr and hum of the machinery.

The technicalities:

 

Melanging (left, or first if viewing on a mobile): Melanging is the process of grinding and blending chocolate with its ingredients.

Tempering (right, or second if viewing on a mobile): Tempering requires chocolate to be slowly heated and then cooled so that the fat molecules crystallise evenly, resulting in a smooth, shiny finish when the chocolate sets.

Videos can be started and stopped by simply clicking on them.

Atbang's Blog

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Tablea, sikwate, cacao vs cacoa, and a little temptation

Atbang Tablea is 100% pure cacao chocolate. We make it in two forms: as powder and as molded tablets (tablea is the Spanish word for tablet). Tablea is one of our top-selling products. It won an award as 'One of the Top 5 Best Tablea Drinks in The Philippines.'

Sikwate is the drink made from tablea. Essentially, it’s tablea, hot water, and sugar, although it can also contain milk and/or cream. The sikwate pictured here             is supplied by Green Thumb Farm, who serve hot and cold chocolate drinks made from Atbang tablea in their Al Fresco restaurant, and in their outlets at Panglao International Airport and Tagbilaran Seaport. They also display the Atbang Fine Chocolate range at their outlets. Green Thumb Farm can be found on Facebook. 

Picture of Atbang tablea
sikwate from Green Thumb Farm
Atbang's teapot and cup for sikwate

Back on Atbang's home ground, here is a photo of a rather nice English teapot being used to pour our sikwate. Would you like a cup?

Regarding cacao vs cacoa, please be aware that only cacao is the real deal. It’s pure and unadulterated. Cacoa isn’t; it’s refined and often contains extra ingredients.

If you're not already convinced by cacao, here's a quote by author David Wolfe:

"Cacao has the highest antioxidant concentration of any major food in the world. Cacao is thirty times higher in antioxidants than red wine, twenty times more potent in antioxidants than blueberries, three times higher than acai, and twice as much as chaga mushrooms. These antioxidants protect our cells from free radical damage and therefore contribute to our longevity and state of well-being."

Are you sure you wouldn’t like a cup?

Atbang's Blog

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Organic Soil

quote about the biology of soil

Warren Buffet is known for his financial acumen, but in the following two quotes, he shows he's no novice on the farm.

"Soil is a living ecosystem, and is a farmer's most precious asset. A farmer's productive capacity is directly related to the health of his or her soil."

"There are more living organisms in a tablespoon of highly organic soil than there are people on the planet."

Now, a question, not a quote. Let’s say the number of living organisms in soil contaminated by pesticides / chemical fertilisers (let’s ignore GMO for now) could be quantified as people. Where would those people fit? Yes, it’s speculation, and there can’t be a specific answer, but it’s amusing to guess. How about a small island? No. A football stadium? Still too big. A village or barangay hall? Smaller? Okay, we could go on until we get to a doormat, but there’s no need. Point made.

To end this brief paean to healthy soil, here’s a quote by British horticulturist Monty Don:

"By having a direct stake and involvement with the process of plants growing, of having your hands in the soil and tending it carefully and with love, your world and everyone's else's world too, becomes a better place."

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Atbang goes to Glastonbury

We are thrilled with our collaboration in the UK with RUHIYA, who serves Atbang 100 Ceremonial Grade Cacao drinks in her Sound healing sessions, her Holistic voice lessons, and her Healing power of Music sessions in Glastonbury, England.

Cacao is the food of the Gods; it’s healing power be with us, wherever we are.

Atbang Fine Chocolate. Single origin: Bohol, Philippines

Atbang 100 ceremonial cacao
The package sent to Ruhiya
Ruhiya's session

Ruhiya's website: 

Ruhiya pouring Atbang's 100% ceremonial cacao

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If something is not eating your plants, then your garden is not part of the ecosystem.

We, at Atbang Farm® are resolute in growing food the natural, organic way, and say no to chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides. We make our own natural farm inputs sourced from our vicinity, fermented and decomposed by invisible creatures, otherwise known as indigenous microorganisms.
Mother Nature will take care of the pests. 

Cacao leaves, some partly-eaten

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A walk in the woods.

Here are two close encounters with ripening cacao pods. Green and purple. Play the videos with the natural sounds on (music icon) to feel like you're there in person. Videos can be started and stopped by simply clicking on them. 

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How Pili trees help Atbang Farm® to celebrate the International Day of Forests

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 March the International Day of Forests in 2012 to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

Happy International Day of Forests!

This year's theme for International Day of Forests is Forests and Innovation: New Solutions for a Better World. The battle against deforestation requires new technological advancements. Forests, known as Earth's lungs, are vital for a balanced environment.

This is a fast growing Pili Nut tree (Canarium ovatum). Pili trees are deep rooted and like fertile, well-drained soil. Planted in our farm as windbreaks, and for nuts, Pilis grow to 20 meters in height. With dense foliage, they make an ideal home for forest creatures. We hope to see these trees flower and bear fruit in the near future. And of course, seeds eventually grow into a forest.

Pili Nut tree in Nov 23
Pili Nut tree in Mar 24
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