Well, just the afternoon if we’re going to be accurate. And not just any kind of farm, which makes this a great discovery and warrants more future visits and recommendations to friends.
My mom made her birthday all about Akira by whisking us off to Costales Nature Farms in Majayjay, Laguna.
Upon arrival, the first thing you’d see would be the pig pens:
Nevermind the fact that Akira was afraid to pet the pigs even after I showed her that it’s ok. The amazing thing about this though is that the pig pens did not stink. At all. Once you arrive, these enclosures are the first thing that would greet you. And that immediately establishes the special difference about organic and sustainable farming practices, which is what Costales practices and advocates.
There’s plenty of produce. What you’d spot right away are the salad veggies – there’s romaine lettuce and lolla rosa, and herbs like basil, tarragon and oregano. There were lots of tomatoes, even the cherry variety, and even dragonfruit.
The best discovery for me would be this:
Believe it or not, but those are upo (a quick Google check says it’s bottle gourd in English). The thing is they are usually elongated – think giant eggplants that are pale green instead of violet and are longer and thicker than your arms. I’ve NEVER seen or heard of round upo.
Good thing it was available in their souvenir shop, I just had to buy one. At home, we diced them up, sautéed them in garlic, onions and tomatoes – delicious. Akira, who’s usually averse to vegetables, heartily ate them with eggs.
Apart from all the beautiful produce and non-stinky pigs, Costales also has a lot of chickens, ducks and turkey.
Not exactly free-roaming, but at least they’re not cramped, and they appear to be eating well.
Costales Nature Farms is in a picturesque location – at the foot of Mt. Banahaw. It’s not very hot, and there’s a nice breeze all around even if it’s the middle of summer. More than a training center for agricultural entrepreneurs and practitioners, especially the ones that would like to know more about organic farming, it’s also a good tourism spot where visitors like us could learn and see up close where our food comes from.
We came late due to a missed turn somewhere, but had we arrived earlier, we would have had a guided tour and possibly had the chance to pick some vegetables. It’s just one of the many tours that Costales offers to visitors. They also have accommodations available.
With that, we just enjoyed a hearty dinner in a kubo (nipa hut), feasted on crispy fried tilapia, pork sinigang soured with kamias instead of the usual tamarind, and pork kare-kare. This is my second best discovery to the upo.
With its broth made from scratch (you can tell, honest), their kare-kare made use of their famous organic pork instead of the usual beef or oxtail, and lettuce and french beans with puso ng saging or banana bud. Theirs is the best kare-kare I’ve ever had. Apologies – none of us were able to take any pictures, the food was just too good.
Be sure to bring some eco bags (and a cooler with ice) for some fresh produce and farm products to bring home. The staff were saying their star product is the pork. Next time, for sure, and a chance to see some of the nearby waterfalls.