- By C.J. Urquico
Glamping on Guam: GoFarm! kicks off agritourism industry
Deep in the jungles of Mangilao, a farm is taking shape. Nestled between a limestone cliff line, pitted with caves, the most famous of which is Marbo. To the east, the gorgeous yet dangerous Pacific Ocean side of Guam.
Pupulu Guam LLC is shaping up the 18-acre property to become Guam's Oceanfront Farm, Adventure Resort & Market "GoFARM!"
The development started in June. Real estate brokers were deemed “non-essential workers” during the original PCOR1 restrictions. Frustrated with the lockdown, owner Marcel Camacho looked for a new project. The government also called for agriculture-related businesses to help diversify Guam's economy.
"I put an ad out for a handyman on Facebook and got a response from Peter Finay, originally from Yap. He was excellent, and I asked him to return for another job,” Camacho said. “He brought his entire family with him, and they helped with a variety of tasks. I told the Finay-Mangefel family that I couldn’t afford to pay all of them every day. They told me that it was OK; they were displaced and had nowhere to go."
The Finay-Mangefel family used to do housekeeping work for AirBnB units but their livelihood was lost due to the tourism industry's shutdown.
Camacho decided to install an air-conditioned container house for the family on the GoFARM property. They have since cleared paths and planted a variety of edible plants and trees to get the farm started.
They also take care of the growing population of animals that include ducks and egg-laying hens. The agritourism development will also have cascading ponds to swim and fish using the land's natural topography.
GoFARM will include “glamping” units with amenities you would find in resorts. Glamping— a fusion of “glamor” and “camping”— is a way to experience nature with the comfort of modern luxury.
A comprehensive Covid19 sanitation plan is in the works. A common camping area for those who bring their own tents will be available.
Visitors will be able to catch their own fish, harvest their own produce, and cook in on-site grills for the ultimate farm-to-picnic-table experience. Alternately, visitors and residents can purchase fresh produce and fish at the market within the park. A botanical garden will showcase the flora of Guam.
The development will also have basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts. A dog park is planned for four-legged campers.
Select areas of the property are set aside for preservation. The enchanting limestone forest full of ironwood trees and the rocky coastline are not being developed. The rare and endangered Fadang trees in the property will also be protected. Rope bridges built over the forest will lead to a sunbathing and events deck built near the coastline.
"They say that there are a lot of taotaomona in this valley. I'm not scared of the spirits that live here, and we always ask for their permission to stay here and guide us as we develop the farm and resort," said Camacho.
Future plans include work and housing programs for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Along with therapy, these programs hope to accelerate what's defined as post-traumatic growth.
The Western Pacific Regional Veterans Foundation, the Society of American Military Engineers and Guam Army National Guard, are collaborating with GoFARM on the program.
"The land was originally owned by my great-grandfather, Marcello Sgambelluri. Over time, each generation inherited lots from the original 900 acres. This is a sanctuary," Camacho said. "You can't beat going out of the house and enjoying nature."