A Growing Culture


The Aloha Natural Farm is located in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines on 2.8 hectares (7 acres, 17 rai). A century ago this land was tropical rainforest. Farming began ten years ago on denatured, demineralized soil infested with cogon grass, Imperata cylindrical. The soil was mapped by the JCIA and Dept of Agriculture as an oxisol ustox, also known as a highly weathered, low organic matter, low C.E.C., brownish red clay soil. Soil tests show that base saturation is high in magnesium and in need of plant available calcium.

Aloha House is a non-stock, non-profit, NGO (Non-Government Organization) and charitable mission serving the community of Palawan and the nation of the Philippines. Aloha House is duly licensed and accredited by the DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) as a Child Caring, Child Placing and Community Serving Agency. The agency is proactive in supplying the staff and children in their care with chemical free nutrient dense food. A large surplus of fruits and vegetables are made available through various marketing practices discussed below.

The climate in Palawan is variable, ranging from 35ºC (95Fº) in June to August, to a cool night time temperature of 25ºC (77Fº). Wintertime holds a pronounced dry season of 4-6 months starting in November or December. Rainfall is over 1,000 mm per year. Permaculture techniques of water harvesting and proper perennial selection is practiced, including S.A.L.T. (Sloping Agricultural Land Technology) species with perennial legumes, vetiver etc. The farm offers regular training opportunities as well as internships. Marketing of produce is done through word of mouth, the C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture), grocery store sales, restaurant sales and roadside signage.

Aloha House started as a ministry base for Keith Mikkelson in July of 1998.  He moved to the Philippines to help the children of Palawan rise above the tough living environment in this last frontier of the Philippines. He believes the Bible is the only true guide in helping man out of his predicament and uses biblical principles that are contextualized for the Filipino setting. He has made trips to the Philippines in 1995, 1996 and 1997 previous to his move to Palawan.  His wife, Narcy, along with his son, Archie, help in various aspects of farm work, marketing, management and product development.

The Aloha Farm consists of 1.3 hectares (3.3 acres, 8 rai) of vegetables and herbs and 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres, 9 rai) of pasture, fish ponds, water catchment and orchard. The only land owned by the NGO is a 2,800 sq meter (0.7 acres, 1.8 rai) property consisting of the orphanage, various livestock housing, aquaponic center, creamery and cheese cave, as well as dorms and a training room for students.  The majority of the farm is on land through agreements with 3 neighbors. Eight farmers have the privilege of managing the soil and microbial health of the fertility system while maintaining productivity without the use of any chemical inputs. The farm manager is also the main instructor for community trainings. An office staff from the institution spends about 50% of her day in farm related duties. The nursery for plants is run by two ladies, while the livestock and fieldwork, including composting and vermiculture, is accomplished with five farm technicians.  Harvesting is a shared responsibility between all the farm workers as well as the cooks at the orphanage. One to two sows are maintained for hog production and fattening, while 3 cows are bred for milk. Currently 3 calves are nursing. A herd of over 20 milking does are maintained, with kidding season in conjunction with rainy season. A sustainable apiary consists of native bee species, trigona sp., the “stingless bee”.

The unique thing about the farm is it’s incredible biodiversity on such a small area. Pest and weed management are seen as part of the fertility management. Crop residue and weeds are utilized for compost as well as pest control. Aloha farm created soil fertility through resource recovery. The waste stream has been diverted from the land fill to compost livestock feed and grey water treatment for irrigation of fruit trees. Fish are raised in a closed loop circulating system where no polluted water is released to the environment. The fish feed is generated within the farm by utilizing culled fish from grading of fingerlings, duck weed and azzolla production, algae and daphnia culture.

Crops grown at Aloha Farm include 55 vegetables, 33 herbs and diverse fruits. Intensive raised bed vegetable production is a mixture of annual and perennial plants. Many herbs are also perennial as well as most fruits that are grown on the farm. Lettuce is a top seller along with rochete and Asian greens like mizuna and batchoy. Perennial herbs such as garlic chives, Indian coriander, and Thai basil are fast selling. Passion fruit, dragon fruit and kefir lime are some of the fruits cultured there. A closed loop mushroom production program with an on farm culture laboratory is another example of their sustainable agriculture philosophy. Livestock includes pastured poultry eggs and meat, natural pork, cow and goat milk, tilapia and earthworm sales.

Value added products and farm tours are also important parts of the profitability of the farm. The Aloha Kitchen is a specialty foods production unit on the farm. Aloha Kitchen makes all natural products for stores and direct sell to farm tour participants. Products include salsa, jams, pesto, cheese, yogurt, goats milk soap, lip balm and toothpaste.

The farm philosophy consists of a natural farming approach where the farmer/scientist learns from nature. In addition, those who have experience in working with nature, instead of against it, are sought out as valuable resources. For example rain forests never get “sick”. They have reached a climax vegetative state that keeps them stable permanently. If we don’t kill all the grazers, prairies can function indefinitely also. That’s why indigenous North Americans used natural grass fires to keep the land productive. A localized forest fire can create better forest as it burns off undergrowth and releases certain nutrients locked up in the cellulose. However, even humus and peat can burn if one is not careful. Natural farming is a bit of an oxymoron because tilling soil by the hectare isn’t natural. Once you plow or rearrange the soil, it is unnatural, but we can copy the systems that help our plants grow. We can simulate the forest floor effect by using the ten fundamentals.

Permaculture design elements are included like edge effect, creating biodiversity and catching & storing energy. Farm generated fertility is of great importance. Feeding the soil will feed the plant through microbial activity. The input-substitution-mentality must be avoided. Soil testing for base saturation and trace elements are part of the soil balancing plan. Instead of seeing the insect as an evil encroacher meant to be eliminated without contemplation, the astute observer of nature determines why the insect is a problem. While building soil health and microbial balance, plants will be naturally insect resistant (proof) to the point of not needing any “help” in fending off pests and disease. Though this ideal is not obtained consistently on every square centimeter, the overall condition of the soil should be more than just disease suppressing; it will produce healthy plants free from pest and disease as the norm. Gardeners, farmers and food growers are always looking for new technology, but a large body of information is already available to us. When I scan resources from A to Z, I find many interesting titles that are widely published and now available from Amazon books, Acres USA, ATTRA and various world wide web internet sites. A consensus is forming. The material promotes certain ideas and concepts.

There appeared to be 8-12 main themes on soil management, natural fertility, cropping systems, etc. We adapted much of what we read in principle, adjusting for our particular tropical climate and clay soil structure. We quickly learned which local substitutions were appropriate. Ten fundamentals that bring success on the sustainable farm have been identified as tools to the natural farmer. Crop Rotation, Legume Usage, Companion Planting, Composting, Green Fertilizers, Mulching, Cover Cropping, Minimal Tillage, Insect Habitat, and Livestock Integration.

Once soil has been tested and a nutrient balance plan has begun, microbial enhancement needs to take place. There are basic ingredients in managing the farmscape. Humus is the rich, sticky, yet crumbly substance found in healthy soil that is the world’s greatest resource. It is a biological process to make humus and glomalin. It has to be properly managed, preserved and can be increased through microbial activity that converts organic matter from roots, compost, manure or crop residue mulched on the surface or plowed under as a green fertilizer.

Practices such as minimal tillage and inoculating with beneficial microorganisms quickly build up effective soil systems that have the structure, nutrients and microbial balance to produce food for generations to come. By adding organic matter in the soil and on the surface, the soil is fed. Actually, it is the microbes in the soil that consume the sugars, nitrogen, complex carbohydrates, fats, and all the other goodies that accumulate in topsoil. They excrete amino acids, root dividing hormones, anti-oxidants etc. This in turn is made bio-available to the roots in the rhizosphere (root zone) down in the soil. That’s why we say; “feed the soil, don’t  just feed the plant.”

We have trained many farmers through our regular three day intensive training on sustainable agriculture. We also have various interns for four months from farms through the country and neighboring nations. Much interest is growing due the success of my book A Natural Farming System for Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics.  In our seminars we teach the fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture. Some call it Organic Farming, some Nature Farming, others Natural Farming. There are subtleties that can make them a little different, but the commitment is to safe, quality food production without chemical inputs. If we feed the soil organic matter, then the microbes will feed the plant. Pest and disease management can be obtained naturally. Building up the soil and managing the organic matter as it is converted into humus is an age-old method.
The real hands on school of success is to intern with a working farm. Then you can learn first hand from experience. You will appreciate the land, soil and even the process of efficient food production more. The special relationship we enter into with the land is called Land Husbandry. You’ve heard of animal husbandry, but land requires stewardship that is very unique compared to that required by your other possessions. We are married to the land in one sense. We are to take care of it for generations to come. We teach the stewardship that each person has during our internship program. They learn more than just technique; they get to see the big picture. We teach the stewardship that each person has during our internship program. They learn more than just technique; they get to see the big picture. Our interns can learn value in providing quality food in a sustainable operation.

Any farmer who wants to develop his techniques should try an internship. It is a time honored tradition in most trades and will be valuable experience. It’s training time you will not be able to carve out of your schedule once you have your own project. The methods and practices learned through repetition and day-to-day reality will decrease time wasted on your own farm. Your mistakes will not be as catastrophic in an established farm! When you start without this internship exposure, you will loose a lot of time and money learning the hard way. Why not learn from someone that made the mistakes for you? Learn what they went through and don’t repeat their mistakes; make new ones based on insights that will lower your risk.  You’re sure to fumble in the beginning. We did. However, the lessons learned from previous projects allowed us to progress quickly. We hope our interns will progress quickly too!

Submitted by Keith Mikkelson

Aloha House
Mitra rd.
Puerto Princesa City


  • Comment by Keith Mikkelson — June 18, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

    We have interns coming from the Philippines, USA, Malaysia, Liberia, Korea, Vietnam, China and Singapore. Many are seeing the need for secure, quality, sustainable food production and we enjoy hosting them from all over the world!

  • Comment by ed — February 12, 2012 @ 10:37 pm


  • Comment by Narcy Mikkelson — February 19, 2012 @ 10:28 pm

    visit our website at http://www.alohahouse.org and send a message in the guestbook. We will answer you from there.


  • Comment by elmor sudara — March 4, 2012 @ 10:09 am

    Dear Mr.& Mrs. Mikkelson,

    Hello!, My name is Elmor Sudara and my family are in Palawan.
    I am interested about your ” feed the soil and not the tree ” concept
    kind of growing plants. I like to learn about sustainable kind of
    May I asked how long will it take to complete the seminar, and
    expenses like: tuition, and board and lodging. May I ask also the
    schedule for this month and or for this year 2012.
    My e-mail address is elmor.sudara@yahoo.com .
    Thank you very much.

    Truly your’s,

    Elmor Sudara

  • Comment by mike somera — March 9, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

    Good morning sir, I live here in palawan and im very much interested in organic farming, may i know the date, expenses, and number of days of your seminar?
    Thank you and more power to help,God bless

  • Comment by oliver tamayo — March 17, 2012 @ 4:41 am

    hi good day…my work is engaged in producing tv commercial, right now i have a client in singapore planing to shoot in one of your tomato farm in palawan.my contact number 09175345576.

  • Comment by Patrick Bailey — April 3, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    I am interested in buying a medium to heavy duty wood chipper and shredder. Any suggestions? I live in Davao, Mindanao

  • Comment by estherlyn ebon - lomibao — August 8, 2012 @ 4:39 am

    Nice place! My students in agri – business wanted to have our educational field trip there. Who will be our contact person?

  • Comment by Nimrod Arque — October 17, 2012 @ 6:10 am


    Do you sell Tilapia Fingerlings? the Tilapia for sea water, I am looking for fingerlings of Tilapia to buy, as well as Boer Goat if there is in Palawan.


  • Comment by Justine Lance T. Mojal — January 2, 2013 @ 6:54 am

    Well, do you sell vermicast….you know from vermiculture?And also worms for vermiculture?If you have, I’d like to inquire the cost.Here’s my email, jlmojal@rocketmail.com .I am also here in Palawan. Please email me ASAP. That’s for my project in research……………………THANK YOU VERY MUCH …..Also , my aunt is “Maria Leonila Mojal” if you know her……….

  • Comment by Frank Woolf — January 7, 2013 @ 6:45 am

    Congratulations on a fantastic job. I just started less than a year ago with 2.5 hectares in Davao about 2,000 feet above sea level. Your farm is very similar to what I am trying to achieve. I need to learn a lot more about what will grow best here in the Philippines and like you I need to get the soil tested as it definitely has problems.

    Where can the book you mention be purchased?

    Very best regards

    Frank Woolf

  • Comment by Robert V. Odiamar — February 27, 2013 @ 6:20 am

    I’m interesting in organic lettuce farming, Please send me your power point in lettuce production.
    Thank you and more power.

    Robert V. Odiamar
    Isarog Highland Farm

  • Comment by Asher — March 13, 2013 @ 10:20 am

    We don’t have a powerpoint on lettuce farming at AGC. were you referring to a specific article?

  • Comment by NENITA PARCON — March 18, 2013 @ 1:20 am

    pwede po bang malaman kung saan ako pwedeng mag seminar on vegetable farming at magkano ang aking magagastos sa seminar marami pong salamat

  • Comment by Hermogenes Quiray — April 17, 2013 @ 12:33 am

    Mr Keith Mikkelson & wife Narcy,
    your page is very useful & informative to individuals & groups who wish to engage in organic farming. although organic farming was introduced in Palawan more than a decade ago, the system is still on its infant stage. thank you very much for your efforts to promote natural farming by being a show-window farm & orphanage, and also for providing knowledge & healthy foods to poor youth & children of Palawan & Puerto Princesa City.
    we, the advocates of organic farming in the Philippines, salute your efforts & dedication to the cause. Mabuhay & may God bless your way!
    Yours truly,

  • Comment by Roberto Scalzo — May 31, 2013 @ 9:21 am

    Hello Keith and Narcy;
    I am an Australian looking to do an internship somewhere in Asia to learn about natural farming/permaculture etc. You mentioned that you run internships. If so, how long do they run, when are they run and how much do they cost?

  • Comment by edgardo arellano — June 4, 2013 @ 1:03 am

    Can you send me the cost of a full time internship per day including accomodation with and with out foods and how long will it takes for all course you offered? please tabulate the course and with it’s corresponding cost.

  • Comment by Joe Honrado — June 16, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

    Dear sir,

    How much do you sell your worms (ANC). I ma interested in buying 70 kilos

  • Comment by Richel Viernes — July 23, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Firstly Id like to praise the wonderful work you are doing with the children and the small piece of land to provide for them, May our gracious Lord bless you immensely in all your projects and life.

    Sir I have recently bought a small farm in Roxas, Palawan but as I grew up in farm with my parents, education was more important to them and I never learnt much.
    I have my two brothers living on the farm but they don’t have much experience especially natural farming which is my main interest.
    I really need to get them trained in the many ways you spoke about in your website for us to start earning a living as I’m the only one working.
    Please can you let me know about prices and the different courses you have so I can budget or arrange for them to attend even one at a time is ok if I save enough in time for next course.
    Sir Im also interested in tilapia fingerlings as we have a small pond we can use for fish.

    Thank you and God bless you always

  • Comment by Benito C. Orozco — October 24, 2013 @ 3:30 pm


    I am interest to attend your extensive training on natural farming. Please let me know, thru my email address, when it is going to be held and how much will it cost. Thank you very much and more power to you.


  • Comment by flordelino lagundino — November 5, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    Do you sell vegetable seeds and fruit tree seedlings or cuttings? What are your prices? Thank you.

  • Comment by Ailene — November 11, 2013 @ 2:15 am

    Can you supply us vegetables??We have new Resort here at Puerto Princesa.

  • Comment by Ernie — April 6, 2014 @ 9:44 am

    Good evening sir/maddam,

    Do you sell vermicast and worms for vermiculture? If you have, I’d like to inquire the cost.Here’s my email, efabrigas@ymail.com . Please email me. ……………THANK YOU VERY MUCH

  • Comment by Sammy — April 29, 2014 @ 3:50 am

    Hi Keith.

    Greetings from Indonesia.
    My name is Sammy,I’m live at Celebes Island.

    Thanks God what you have done in Palawan. I pray,God will bring you to another level for help alot of people to come to Yesus Kristus.

    Brother Keith,can i have your wonderful book (Sustainable Agriculture and How We Do Social Work)?

    Thank you.

    In Christ.

    Sammy Legi

  • Comment by Pinky Peralta — June 18, 2014 @ 3:52 am

    Hi. I am very much interested to learn Natural farming that you are doing there in Palawan. I am from Manila. May I know the details of internship and/ or intensive seminar?
    Thank you.

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    articles? I mean, what you say iis valuable
    and everything. Nevertheless think of if you added
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  • Comment by Peter — August 5, 2014 @ 11:25 am

    Dear Sir/Ma’am,
    I am very interested in learning about natural farming but most specially aquaphonics . Can you please send me the schedules as well as the fees for all of your courses. Please also include the prices of the accommodation and food. Thank you.
    Peter and Anna

  • Comment by Luz Abarientos — October 2, 2014 @ 9:14 am

    Hello, I’m from Manila. I’ve come across your website by chance, whilst researching organic farms in the country. & while I’m not a farmer, I have completed a natural farming course, done some volunteering in another farm, & it is my ultimate dream to have one that is integrated as well as sustainable. I am interested in your internship program. Could you possibly let me know what the costs are & how long they run for? You’ve mentioned something like 4 months for the internship. Is this true & do you have schedules throughout the year? Any helpful info would be much appreciated.
    Best regards.

  • Comment by Rosa Raul de la — November 1, 2014 @ 9:58 am

    Hi Keith,
    I’m based in Timor-Leste with a Dutch NGO, Hivos. I’m interested, along with two other colleagues, to attend your intensive training in Natural Farming. We’re particularly interested in your Aquaponics set up. Appreciate if you can provide us with information (by email above) on the schedules of your training, training cost per person and other details.


  • Comment by Chito Masanogkay — November 27, 2014 @ 8:21 pm

    I’m a professional currently working in Metro Manila. I am presently doing some preparatory work in a small farm in Southern Tagalog region. i am very much interested to learn about your farming concepts. Can you please email me the details re scheds, fees, accomodations of the training programs (both the 3-day training and the live-in training). My email add:: ltm_obgyn@yahoo.com. Hope to hear from you soon.

    Chito m.

  • Comment by Michael Fieldhouse — January 9, 2015 @ 11:11 am

    Although I am in England I am involved with a family that want to transform their farm (around 8hectacre)in campong-ulay Rizal Palawan to make it more eco friendly and look at crop rotation. I would like to offer my friends to pay the fees for one of your farming courses.

    Can you please let me know what courses are available and the dates plus the costs. they have a house in Puerto so they do not need accommodation
    Happy New year
    Many thanks

  • Comment by ichay bulaong — May 14, 2015 @ 1:32 am

    Hi, Keith. I have a one year old farm in coron, palawan. This is my first time to venture into farming and am constantly learning. My goal is to be able to provide fresh vegetables for the people and visitors of Coron, and to provide livelihood for the barrio where my farm is. I am interested in your internship for myself and a few of my colleagues. Can you kindly advise schedules, costs, etc. Thank you very much and looking forward to hearing from you.

    Ichay M Bulaong

  • Comment by Matt — October 1, 2015 @ 9:01 am

    Dear Keith: I have been exchanging messages with Rick Burnette (and met him in Chiang Mai a few years ago before he moved to the ECHO USA office) and Abram Bicksler for about 10 years. Your name has been mentioned occasionally. I have been involved in organic and sustainable agriculture for 30 years and actually was promoting organic farming in the Philippines back in the late 1980s as a Peace Corps Volunteer! I started my own organic vegetable, herb and fruit farm here in Cambodia almost 2 years ago. I am curious to know what elevation you are at in Palawan? If you are near to sea level like me I would like to know what you have learned about growing European/Western style veggies (salads, rocket, tomatoes, eggplant, herbs, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, chili peppers, zucchini, squashes, melons, french beans, etc.) at that altitude on your clay soils (I also have hard clay soils and am at near sea level)?? I also would like to know what seed varieties and companies work well for those types of veggies?? What happens on my farm is that during the cooler and drier months I am able to grow most crops with little problems. But, during high temperatures and high levels of rain it becomes very difficult, especially for tomatoes and romaine (other salads will still grow, but romaine seed wont germinate if too hot). I have some polytunnels which helps tomatoes in the rainy season, but still yields are very low. In very hot season flowers on tomatoes produce, but then no fruit. French beans and zucchinis have totally failed time and again. Bell peppers never really get bigger than the size of a chicken egg with thin walls and not very appealing. Broccoli and cauliflower sometimes don’t produce at all, or only produce scraggly or mushy (cauliflower) heads with very low yields. Chili peppers do ok, but Mexican chilies I get from USA don’t perform well. Melons and squashes don’t produce yet – probably partly because of our hard clay soils. Italian basil does OK, but quality goes down in hot and wet seasons. Dill, parsley and cilantro are OK sometimes, but not others. We can’t really do carrots or beets and I assume its because our soils are too hard. I get my seeds from all over the world – have spent over $10,000 on seeds these past 2 years. I get them from Johnny’s Seeds and Sieger’s Seeds in USA; East West Seeds; Tra Nong; Chia Tai; Known You Seeds; Green Eagle (Malaysian); Green Harvest and Green Patch in Australia; etc. Maybe you know Finn (Filipina) and her husband Talmage? They have an organic farm here in Cambodia also. Finn recently brought back some seeds for me from the Philippines although I can’t remember the names of the seed companies. I know I can grow Asian veggies, but my customers mostly want the Western style veggies. So, I need to decide if I should keep growing them or transition to more Asian veggies. I have two small greenhouses which helps in some cases, but they are too hot in the hot season. I will build a nethouse soon and try that. I’ve done a little research about this, but from your experience, what veggies will I be able to grow inside the greenhouse and nethouses even though they are not “greenhouse” or parthenocarpic varieties (other than leafy veggies, of course)?? I started an organic veggie farm for street kids in Indonesia about 13 years ago and its still going strong now. It is at about 1,000 meters elevation and on very high quality volcanic Java soils, so no problems growing everything there. But, on my hard clay soils at sea level it is much more challenging. OK, I will stop there for now. Looking forward to hearing about your experiences with western style veggies and different seed sources. Finally, how do I get your book “A Natural Farming System for Sustainable Agriculture in the Tropics”?? I found it on one website, but they asked for my credit card detail to pay for a membership before downloading… OK, looking forward to hearing from you! Best regards, Matt Zimmerman (Green Leaf Farm)

  • Comment by Analyn Trunio — October 6, 2015 @ 11:40 pm

    Good day!
    I am a SPED Teacher of Roxas National Comprehensive High School, Roxas, Palawan.Our SPED Class will be having an Educational Visit in some places in Puerto Princesa on October 24, 2015, Saturday. This activity aims that our students gain valuable knowledge and experience to enhance their social skills, self esteem and confidence.
    In line with this, I would like to ask permission if you could allow us to visit your place as an opportunity to expose our students to various environments to expand their capabilities and improve their abilities.
    Looking forward to hear positive response from you soon.
    Thank you very much and more power!

  • Comment by Sharon-Jully Untalan — October 30, 2015 @ 8:01 pm

    good day!

    Is the farm available for a visit? I am currently doing my MBA major in Entreprenuership and organic farming is one of my possible paper.

    Please let me know if its possible for me to go and visit your farm for first hand information.

    I hope that you can provide the details how I can schedule it as well as the contact information of the person in charge.

    Thank you and God bless you in the work that you do.

    Sharon-Jully Untalan

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