After two of their children were diagnosed with autism spectrum, Lorenzo “LJ” Y. Sumulong III and his wife, Ma. Carina (nee Avanzado), decided to grow their own food.
Farming has always been LJ’s hobby. He has been managing his family’s realty firm and is also involved in politics in his native Antipolo. But farming has always been his interest. How convenient it all is as they actually live on a farm.
Raising and growing their own food was part of the intervention strategy for their children. They explained that some studies showed that autism could be linked to the intake of food that had been treated with antibiotics and other chemicals.
In time, the Sumulongs turned to organic farming. This meant raising free-range, antibiotic-free chickens and pigs, and purely grass-fed, antibiotic-free cows and lambs.
Not long after, what started as a hobby turned into a business.
In the beginning, their focus was to improve the animal’s body conformation, performance (growth rate, survivability, fertility, reproductive capabilities) and flavor.
In the process of improving the native pig breed (favored for very tasty meat), the Sumulongs embarked on a selective interbreed breeding program and chose the Berkshire (Kurobuta in Japan) to crossbreed with the native variety.
By doing so, they improved their native hybrid and produced island-born Berkshires.
The Berkshire breed, said LJ, has unparalleled meat quality. He explained that pigs in general can manifest, through the flavor of their meat, whatever feed they have consumed in substantial quantity.
Pigs on the Sumulong farm are fed fresh fruits and vegetables sourced from the local market and groceries. These include cabbage, lettuce, eggplant, okra, ampalaya, sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, broccoli, papayas, squash, pechay, bokchoy, bananas, grapes, melons, watermelons and oranges.
Added to their diet is what is in abundance on the farm that the family can no longer consume themselves such as sampaloc, santol, kamias, duhat, singkamas, kangkong, alugbati, malunggay, kasuy fruit, acacia pods, mangoes and pineapples.
There was an excess of overripe mangoes on the farm. The pigs that were fed mangoes had a hint of citrus in their meat. Their consumption of overripe bananas made their meat slightly sweeter.
The Sumulongs said they feel that their farm is positioned to develop the breed best suited for the lechon market as they raise the pigs themselves. They said they have the ability to go back to the drawing board, if necessary, to adjust breeding or feeding strategies.
Pigs are free-range and naturally raised.
Farmer to ‘lechonero’
In the process of perfecting the breed, adjustments were made in their breeding program to suit the demand for the lechon market. The pigs that were rejected they experimented with and this is, in a nutshell, how LJ and Carina moved from being farmers to being lechonero as well.
A difficulty they faced was that neither one of them cooked. Their desire to expand the business led them to tap the services of the best lechonero in their town. Through a strategic partnership, they started their lechon business.
Wanting to improve on their product, the Sumulongs are tweaking their recipe, experimenting with flavors.
They promise to launch a tastier Kurobuta lechon by April.
They have yet to decide on the name but, for now, the roast pig is called the SSF Lechon— Sumulong Sustainable Food.
I look forward to savoring their lechon in April.
The Sumulongs also raise Wagyu, Dorper lambs/sheep, conventional broilers, catfish, occasional free-range chickens and native chickens.
They also sell lamb, Wagyu, dressed chicken and choice pork cuts.
They are looking into sustainable seafood farming and foie gras production.
A hobby that has gone this far, born out of love for their children! With this as motivation, there is nothing, it seems, that LJ and Carina can’t or won’t do.
For organic pork, beef, chickens and lamb, call 0998-9710871.