Smart Rooftop Hydroponics Farm for High-Value Crops:
Ellah Mae O. Aborque, Rienze Denise J. Aborque, Kelvin B. Makabenta, Rodolfo Marlon A. Medino III, and Rojen Vincent A. Medino may not have any large farms to till, but they do have the creative mind and persevering spirit for farming.
Through the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) Young Farmers Challenge Fund (YFCF): Kabataang Agribiz Competitive Grant Assistance Program, LushrLands made their dreams come true as the quintet became one of the enterprise awardees of the YFCF Provincial and Regional Level Competitions.
Mastering the art of complementary talents
At a young age, these individuals have developed the skills that fit their passion for farming, similar to how the right pieces complete a jigsaw puzzle. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they invested their time at home enriching their talents and skills in activities that they are most passionate of.
While staying in Taguig City, Metro Manila at the house of his relatives, Rodolfo Marlon A. Medino III, the “Master Planner,” spent his time reading and watching videos about farming. He became knowledgeable on hydroponics as he attended webinars and read lots of references about this innovative farming technology.
Rojen Vincent A. Medino, the group’s “Master Engineer,” is a senior electrical engineering student at Eastern Visayas State University – Tacloban Campus. He used most of his time working on electronic tools to devise an instrument for a school project.
To make profitable products out of their crops, they included their aunt, Rienze Denise J. Aborque, to be the “Master Chef” of the team. Another recruit was Ellah Mae O. Aborque, who became the team’s “Master of Logistics” due to her geographical cleverness, congeniality, and love for biking—making her the perfect fit for delivering goods to customers.
To complete the team, the group was joined by Kelvin B. Makabenta, their “Master Accountant.” This young man is a family friend who pursued his accountancy course and is now a Certified Public Accountant. He helps in handling financial aspects of the enterprise.
Greening the cities
The five agripreneurs believe that despite limited land in the urban areas, farming is still possible through hydroponics.
The name LushrLands is short for ‘Lush Our Lands’, which actually means ‘to make abundance on the lands’. This has taken root from the team’s vision that it is possible to produce food in abundance even in densely-occupied urban areas through farming on the roofs. The team’s tagline is “Growing safe and sustainable food in the heart of the city,” operating on a smart rooftop hydroponics farm.
The group offers lettuce, which is a healthy vegetable that fits everyone’s daily diet. While urban lands are mostly converted into business areas and residential sites, LushrLands envisioned and operationalized growing high-value crops and delivering them fresh to customers. The three main goals of this agribusiness venture are to apply sustainable agriculture, to establish a green city, and to empower more youth in the community.
Rising above challenges
Juggling work and studies can be quite tough at times, making challenges inevitable. Operational issues like taking care of the farm, dealing with the weather, and sometimes dealing with bogus buyers drain the team. But God knows that more than profiting, the team has a lot of good intentions. In the desire to pursue their farming passion, their family played a big role in helping them surpass their farming endeavors. Challenges turned into opportunities that helped them hone their skills and talents even better.
The group established social media platforms to help them reach more people, even outside Carigara, Leyte. They innovated to make their hydroponics system automated and weather-resilient. Their desire to reach more clientele drove them to be more creative, producing and offering appetizing value-added products like lettuce salad, salad dressings, and different herbs and spices.
The team emphasized that the only way to make their dreams come true is by going out of their comfort zones and believing that they can make the impossible possible. Although they do not have large farms to grow, LushrLands believes that urban areas can definitely go green. These innovative young farmers truly deserve their spot as one of YFCF’s Regional Level awardees, bringing pride to the Eastern Visayas Region. ###