A millennial farmer and his ‘Estancia’

Marymil M. Cabrera

WHILE most young Filipinos strive to be in the corporate world, others, like Franz Josef Olea, literally take the “greener pasture.”

Franz, 27, is the owner and farmer of La Estancia Agri-Ventures, a family-run farm.

It all started with the idea of building a goat house way back in 2017 in Danao, Cebu because of Franz’s interest for goats and their different breeds.

“My first pet was a goat,” he said.

At their farm, they started with Boers and Anglo Nubians goats. Sometime after, Franz and his family realized that goat manure helped sustain their production of forage. So, they tested on a plot of lettuce as an experiment. The first harvest was a great success and from then on, it sparked the family’s passion for farming.

In 2018, the place intended for a goat house became a place for crop and livestock raising.

“It was a long and slow process getting into it since only a few resources on farming were available based on our research,” said Franz. The family had to do everything on their own.

Fast forward to 2020, La Estancia is now one of the first farms in Cebu that offer farm-to-table delivery service, and makes deliveries three times a week. Currently, the family has a site in Dalaguete.

For the past two years, La Estancia Agri-Ventures has been an advocate of chemical-free farming. And this organic way of growing has led Franz and his family to focus on their main crop which is lettuce.

“We aim to be the most reasonably priced salad ingredients producer in Cebu, and be able to offer these fresh, anytime in multiple locations, and organic, too as it is our advocacy,” shared Franz.

La Estancia Agri-Ventures’ main line is salad ingredients: lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and arugula. It also has a special program for its frequent customers wherein it sends a customized salad box to them weekly. A harvest chart is also posted on its social media pages: La Estancia Agri-Ventures on Facebook and @laestanciacebu on Instagram, where it also shares its farming journey including how the produce it offers is grown and how it is closely monitored by its team. Even how the produce is being transported is monitored to ensure its quality before delivering it to clients.

Since most of the people are into gardening these days, here’s a pro-tip from Franz:

“Focus on your soil. The key to organic farming is your soil. As the saying goes, ‘You are what you eat.’ This applies to our crops too. If we feed our crops with healthy soil, we will be harvesting healthy crops as well.”

Sustaining farm operations might be a big challenge, especially with a few factors beyond human control like weather and rainfall, but for Franz, organic farming is fun and rewarding when you know you’re feeding your family the healthier choice.