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 are the pig pens:
Normally, it would be odd to have the pig pens front and center of any farm and be the first thing to greet visitors. But this isn’t your typical farm. Come this close to pigs and find yourself shocked that you don’t find yourself taken aback by stench. There was none. At all.
I believe the farm is laid out in this exact way to establish what sets its apart from regular farms: That this farm practices and advocates for green and sustainable practices. And amongst other things, organic farming methods lets you keep hogs in pens that don’t stink.
Costales Nature Farms has plenty of produce. It’s easy to spot the salad veggies right away – greens like romaine lettuce and lolla rosa – as well as herbs like basil, tarragon and oregano. There were lots of tomatoes, regular native tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, and there’s even dragonfruit. No need to go to Ilocos to see the plants up close!
For me though, this was the best discovery from Costales Farms:
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, and sautéed them in garlic, onions and tomatoes. Simply delicious. Akira, who’s usually averse to vegetables, heartily ate them with scrambled eggs.
Apart from all the beautiful produce and non-stinky pigs, Costales also has a lot of chickens, ducks and turkey.
Not exactly free-range, but at least they’re not cramped, and I’m happy to see they have all those herbs and vegetables to peck on.
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 centre for agricultural entrepreneurs and practitioners, especially the ones that would like to know more about organic farming, it’s also an interesting tourist spot where visitors like us could learn and see up close how good healthful food is produced.
We came late due to a missed turn, 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), feasting on crispy fried tilapia, pork sinigang soured with kamias instead of the usual tamarind, and pork kare-kare. The pork kare-kare is my second best discovery to the upo.
With its broth made from scratch (you can tell, honest), their kare-kare makes 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 instead of the usual native pechay and string beans. Theirs is easily one of the best kare-kare I’ve ever had. The meal was so good that none of us were able to take a photo of the food. Not even my mom who has a habit of taking food pictures these days.
Be sure to bring 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.
Costales Nature Farm is in Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna.