The agri-industrial area of Iloilo is found in the central part of the province. Aside from sugar, agricultural products such as corn, rice, bananas, and pineapples can be found here. Iloilo has one of the highest number of farms among the Western Visayas provinces.
The Farming Life
Iloilo’s Farm Circuit is a farm tourism promotion that gives tourists a glimpse of life on the farm. It is an experience worth trying to see how local farm products are produced and made into mouth-watering delicacies.
A Certified Organic Farm
Since 2011, the Orchard Valley in Pavia has been the first and only certified organic farm in Iloilo, recognized by the Negros Island Certification Services. The Orchard Valley farmland stretches behind the Tigum River, an ideal site for visitors to learn about organic farm practices. This is also Orchard Valley farmland’s contribution to the promotion of responsible tourism.
Divided into sections which include a vegetable garden, fruit trees, livestock, and an organic fertilizer production area, visitors may join in harvesting fresh organic vegetables and fruits in season. These homegrown vegetables and herbs are also available for those who may wish to purchase. The produce from the organic farm are supplied to hotels, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, and selected groceries and supermarkets.
Orchard Valley grows a lot of malunggay (moringa) trees cropped with organic fertilizers such as animal manure from the farm’s organic dairy cattle, chickens, and other livestock animals. Aside from selling malunggay leaves to supermarkets, the leaves also serve as feeds to milking cows for higher milk production. The dried and powdered leaves are used in the making of a local delicacy called malunggay pan de sal.
A resident chef prepares salads and other dishes with homegrown produce and products such as kesong puti or white cheese and salad greens. Visitors may also try their fried mushrooms, deep-fried root crops, tempura camote leaves, organic yogurt, and sumptuous desserts.
Orchard Valley is a learning site where students train in organic agriculture. They are taught how to ferment plant and fruit juices to be used for the promotion of plant growth and protection from pests and other plant diseases. Aside from plant care, the students are also given instructions on the care of free-range chickens for eggs and meat, native pigs, and rabbits, along with manure fertilizing and vermicomposting.
Farm and Resort – The Best of Both Worlds
The Damires Hills Tierra Verde Leisure Farm in Sta. Barbara is a 45-hectare farm with 29 hectares dedicated to a natural forest and for growing crops. It is built around the natural surroundings of verdant hills and forests allowing birds to freely flit and sing amid lush greenery and local flora. It features an aquaponics greenhouse with around 2,500 tilapia fingerlings in a 35-square meter pool. The pool water is recirculated to supply water and nutrients for growing lettuce.
Doubling as a resort, it also offers various amenities that guarantee a restful and relaxing stay. You can enjoy ziplines, ATV adventure, daytime pools, a 217-meter canopy walk adventure, a locally-inspired spa and a filling meal at Norma’s Coffee Shop and Souvenir Shop.
Where Papayas and More Rock
The Ephrathah Farms of Badiangan is a sprawling resort and farm of rolling hills that is known for its “Red Lady” papaya orchard, the sweet “Pitahaya” or dragon fruit and the Lakatan banana plantations. The farm also features a medicinal herbal plantation, a black and pink rice plantation, a livestock farm, and an aquaculture pond.
A newly-acquired herbal tea dehydrator is used to dry malunggay, guyabano (soursop) and guava leaves, which have long been known to have medicinal properties, and are sold as herbal teas to the public.
Other products available at Ephrathah Farms include herbal concoctions such as Balanyos, a combination of 15 organic herbs used to relieve muscle and joint pains, rheumatism, muscle cramps, among others.. They also have Passi Herbal Vaporub, RHP Skin Disease Ointment, papaya herbal soap, herbal bath soap, and natural herbal lotion.
The resort’s amenities include a chapel, a zipline, swimming pools, an adventure park, a greenhouse, a vegetable garden, and a mini-zoo.
A Heavenly Farm
Garin Farm’s Heaven on Earth is an interesting pilgrimage resort. It is the only resort in the Philippines that combines agriculture, leisure, and a pilgrimage. Garin Farm showcases viable agricultural livelihood plant and animal culture, product processing, and a zero-waste management program that creates a balanced plant and animal coexistence. Apart from this, the zero-waste management program uses composting and biogas with recycling as the highlight of their Mini Urban Backyard Scrap Garden. The sprawling area houses forest trees, fruits trees, various vegetables, and flowering plants along with farm animals.
The entrance is a welcoming canopy covered in vines. At the restaurant area, you can have a glorious view of a manmade lake and witness hundreds of white doves during feeding time. The restaurant offers a host of Garin Farm organic products such as organic coconut sugar, coco vinegar, virgin coconut oil, fresh coconut water, bananas, farm-fresh eggs from chickens, ducks and quails, fresh cow, carabao and goat milk, processed meats, homemade ice cream, fresh fruit juices, and other local snacks.
The Hydroponics Building has plants growing in a multi-level system without the use of soil. Indigenous microorganisms are prepared in the probiotics area. There are over 26 farm animal buildings and over 33 vegetable gardens using organic fertilizer and various watering systems for pesticide-free produce. The Agro-Forestry Building propagates forest tree and fruit tree seedlings.
Across the restaurant is a long flight of steps that leads to Heaven on Earth. This area symbolizes what one will have to go through in life before entering the Pearly Gates. At the top is the Dark Meditation Tunnel where you will blindly walk through a long dark hall. This is deemed as the moment in life where a person recalls past sins and repents for them.
At the end of the tunnel, a blinding light awaits, representing what entering Heaven could possibly look and feel like. While in this area, you will be welcomed by angels and saints in the form of bright white statues, with a white cross as the focal point. Accompanied by Handel’s Messiah in the background, this is what they call Heaven on Earth.
The many farms of Iloilo can give you a farm life experience of a lifetime. Make sure to experience Iloilo farms on your next visit in the city of love!