Agriculture brings us life, Tourism brings us joy, Costales Nature Farms brought us joyful life experience.
One of my earliest memories is being on a hill with my mother in our hometown Borongan in Eastern Samar. I remember planting camote (sweet potato) tops and then tumbling afterward. My lack of physical prowess was evident early on, so dreams of athletic stardom was immediately scratched out (Goodbye Olympics). I had no idea that I would be like Jack in that popular nursery rhyme. Thank goodness I did not suffer debilitating injuries or else I would not be here telling you this anecdote about my childhood.
I remembered this lovely childhood memory when we arrived at Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna. Though we left Borongan when I was four years old, I still want to live in the countryside in the future and do backyard farming while doing my web writing job. Bucolic existence with a dash of WiFi, that is what millennial dreams are made of, right?
Costales Nature Farms sits on a property on the foothills of Mount Banahaw in the municipality of Majayjay and is closer to Quezon Province than to the center of Laguna. It was established in 2005 and is now a premier agri-tourism destination offering farm life experience even for a day or two to travelers looking for something beyond the usual R&R. Aside from this they also conduct seminars and workshops for those who are interested in learning integrated organic farming and farm owners who want to turn their farm into tourism destinations.
After a sumptuous lunch prepared by the farm’s amiable staff, we were taken on a tour of the property by our guide Ms. Shaira Sebolino, she works for the farm while pursuing her studies at the Laguna State Polytechnic University in Sta. Cruz, Laguna.
Our farm tour started at the Vermiculture area where they use worms to decompose biodegradable waste which turns into a nutrient-rich material for the crops that are grown on the farm. The farm employs African night crawlers which are known for their voracious appetite for the job. They may be creepy crawlers but they contribute to the maintenance of the ecosystem so do not say eww and judge them for their appearance.
Next stop was the piggery where they raise organic pigs, they use E-MAS (Effective Microorganism Solution) to regulate the smell coming from the waste of the hogs. I suddenly remembered Ka Gerry Geronimo’s program Ating Alamin on PTV 4 which I believe promotes the same technology.
After our encounter with Babe and his cohorts, we visited Daddy’s Garden where they grow herbs and other plants. The garden is named after the late Ronald Costales, who founded the farm together with his wife Josie. The plants are for sale and are reasonably priced, my faves are tarragon which can be made into a tea and the spearmint which has a refreshing taste, like having an instant mouthwash.
The farm also grows the Synsepalum dulcificum, a plant known for its miracle berry which when eaten causes sour fruits to taste sweet. The secret is to eat it first before consuming anything sour (lemons, calamansi, etc.) and voila, sour fruit is saccharine sweet. I tried it with another fruit on the farm, the barbados cherry, a tangy fruit resembling our local siniguelas and it was legit man, sintamis ng wine, singtatag ng sunshine.
Because the owners espouse healthy living, the farm does not use chemicals and pesticides in growing its high-value vegetables and herbs. Some of the vegetables grown at Costales are lettuce, kale, okra, and cucumber. Among the farm’s clients for their organic produce are Dizon Farms, Shopwise, Rustans, Italliani’s, Solaire etc. The farm offers a Green Salad Tour where visitors can pick and pay for the vegetables that they harvest.
Kids would have fun visiting the farm animals (aside from the pigs) like the bunnies which have quirky names taken from pop culture faves (Does Arya, ring a bell?). There are also free range chickens and turkeys, sadly I was not able to ask for their names.
The farm does not have a swimming pool because having a pool would require the use of chlorine which is a chemical and this would strip the property of its certification from the Department of Agriculture. Don’t worry as there are a lot of activities that you would not mind missing the pool.
One of this is fishing, the young ones and the young at heart can bond and catch fish at their pond. Fishing has a lot of benefits. We live in a fast paced world and fishing teaches us the virtue of patience. And it puts patience into practice. The lucky ones can catch a fish immediately but for most of us, it’s all about waiting for one to catch the bait.
As I said earlier, the farm offers a pick and pay experience for visitors. We were able to harvest vegetables which we made into a Garden Salad. From farm to table to our hungry stomach, but before that, we had to peel and cut the veggies. There was no monetary compensation but everyone had a competitive and creative spirit making the best salad they could come up with. Of course, we used Asian Delite, Costales’ very own organic vinaigrette.
Another fun activity was making tupig, a native delicacy made from glutinous rice flour, sugar, and coconut strips and wrapped in banana leaves, it is cooked by grilling over charcoal. Probably the best tupig I have ever tasted, sorry for the bias, you’ve got to love your own, right?
Aside from making tupig, we also got to make kale juice, kale or leaf cabbage is one of the healthiest vegetables around. It is a rich source of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, Vitamin K, folate, and manganese. It is also a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin E and several dietary minerals, including iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Costales Nature Farms has a variety of tour packages that would fit your need and budget. May you be a weekend warrior looking for something to do outside of the office, or a group of friends who want to do a bonding activity, or a school which wants to do a field trip aside from the generic soda factory tour or the ubiquitous noontime show visit.
Rates are as of September 15, 2017. Book now by sending an email to email@example.com.
Aside from Agritourism, they also offer comprehensive seminars and workshops for those who are interested in learning about integrated organic farming techniques, EM technology, and organic hog production. Seminar schedules and rates are available on their website.
Costales Nature Farms’ tagline is Agriculture brings us life, Tourism brings us joy, Agritourism brings us joyful life experience. And it was truly a joyful weekend for all of us. It was a privilege to experience farm life even just for a weekend. We all need a healthy lifestyle and a healthy weekend is a great start to a healthy life. Malusog at magandang buhay para sa ating lahat.
(Image credit: Jeffrey Rilles)
Thank you very much, Ms. Josie Costales, Mr. Keneth de Gracia, Mr. Jess Buelo, Ms. Shaira Sebolino, and the rest of the team at Costales Nature Farms. Shout out also to my fellow bloggers, Jherson Jaya (Lonely Travelogue😉 and Lana Margaret Caronongan (@binibining_margaret), Franco Ayson (Lagaw Travelogue), Claire Madarang (Traveling Light), Rem Tanauan (Peregrinations Within) Angel Enero and Nil Enero and Eli (Mrs. Enero’s Diaries), Billy Rodriguez Palatino (EscapeTravels), Millet Miranda (Project Gora) and the Jeffrey Rilles (Traveling Morion). We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun. Sa uulitin!
Till my next rant, Peace and Stay Fresh peeps!
HOW TO GET THERE
Adress: Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna
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