Not far from hot, crowded, very urban Metro Manila are two farm properties gaining recognition among city slickers young and old. The Fun Farm at Sta. Elena in Cabuyao, Laguna and The Sweet Spring Country Farm in Alfonso, Cavite offer rural experiences that will acquaint us with the rudiments of farming—and fun as well.
Fun in Laguna
A 40-minute drive from Makati via the South Luzon Expressway is the Cabuyao exit. Right after the toll plaza, the village entrance to Sta. Elena can be found. From there it is a short distance to the Fun Farm compound—easy to spot because of its sign and the colorful trucks parked at the entrance.
Its walkway is evenly paved, with flowers abloom and trees offering shade. A concrete multi-purpose hall in the middle is where clean bathrooms and shower rooms are located. Seen throughout the property are hand-painted signs that aim to speak to one’s consciousness.
The three-hectare property divided into two parts: the play area and the farmstead.
The play area is a child’s dream: there are climbable tepees made from recycled wood, a covered sand house, sturdy suspended ropes to balance on, a zipline and an obstacle course.
Or guests can row a boat across a man-made lake, go fishing, ride wooden see-saws and swing on swings assembled from old rubber tires—playground facilities that are fun for the young and nostalgic for the young at heart.
Animal interaction is part of the experience. There are horses and ponies for riding, a carabao-drawn cart to tour you around the area, and pigs, rabbits and guinea pigs to feed—all for P300.
A further trek will bring you to the Holy Carabao Holistic Farm, which grows organic produce. This may seem to some as the least of the farm’s attractions, but the area is also open for guests to explore.
The Fun Farm is also host to Balik Bukid, a country fair that promotes a healthy lifestyle, sustainable living and homegrown products. On May 11, Mother’s Day, Balik Bukid will craft an event specially designed for moms.
Farmer Kiko’s Cavite escape
Then we go further south to Alfonso, Cavite, a town past Tagaytay. This is where Sweet Spring Country Farm is found.
A green gate with a tarpaulin serves as the farm’s humble reception area. The path is rough, permanently marked courtesy of farmers, animals and farm equipment using the road daily. Every space is occupied by crops and fruit-bearing trees.
The three-hectare property currently includes 5,000 square meters of plantation. Here they grow organic lettuce, herbs and “pakbet variety” vegetables. The farm also houses pig pens and a chicken coop.
The Sweet Spring Country Farm experience is rustic. Guests are limited to feeding the farm animals. However, to imaginative children visiting recently, this farm bare of play equipment gave them an avenue for creativity: the 150 or so steep steps to reach the greenhouse became a “secret pathway to cotton candy land”. Makahiya plants that close when grazed were “magic blooms fairies touch to sleep.” And the spring that gave the farm its name became known as “rainbow water” to the kids, as it reflected the colors of its surroundings.
Also contributing to this farm’s charm is its resident farmer, former senator Kiko Pangilinan. “Farmer Kiko” labors here three or four times a week.
His farming, he says, is walking the talk—in the Senate, he served as chair of the Committee on Agriculture and Food.
On Monday, Malacañang announced that the President appointed him Presidential Assistant for Food Security and Agricultural Modernization, with Cabinet rank.
Farmer Kiko believes that “rapid agricultural development” is vital to the alleviation of poverty. “This can have an impact on other development scourges,” he told this writer.
Sweet Spring Country Farm charges P200 for a tour, a lecture, the feeding of animals and the planting of potted herbs to take home. The farm also welcomes on-the-job training for agricultural students.
Two farms offering two different experiences, both equally enriching. For the fun of it, try the Fun Farm at Sta. Elena. For the “farm” of it, check out Sweet Spring Country Farm. — BM, GMA News