Lily of the Valley Organic Farms, run by an interesting pair of retirees, offers more than a retreat from the daily grind. It provides a unique getaway that may just inspire a lifestyle change.
Written by Maricel Salvador
Art Directed by Janine Mendoza
Photographed by Jerick Sanchez of Studio 100
There’s a detox for the body, and then there’s one for the mind and soul. If the latter is what you want, then this is where a quaint little organic farm nestled in the bustling town of La Trinidad, Benguet enters.
It is a truly magical place where amidst the low temperatures and rain afternoons, you are guaranteed to be warmed from your heart all the way to the tips of your toes. Lily of the Valley Organic Farms, just a 20-minute drive away from Baguio City, is run by an interesting pair of retirees: former pastor, Jefferson Laruan, and his wife, a former nurse, Eliza. They are both advocates of healthy and organic living.
This is why they devote their time spreading awareness about organic farming—which uses safe pesticides instead of the chemical-laden commercialized ones—through their little haven up North. Aside from the many activities to do in the farm (which will be discussed below), what is amazing is how different this homestay (a vacation spent at a local family’s home) is compared to other places.
While new hotels that crop up incorporate the latest technology that affords guests convenience, Lily of the Valley does the opposite. Here, there are no TVs, no vehicle sounds. It’s just you and nature for the ultimate detox from life’s clutter, distractions and noise. Home Away From Home Owner Eliza’s quirky tastes influence the homestay’s design, which also takes inspiration from the Ibaloi tribe (an indigenous ethnic group from the North).
The result? The house is homey thanks to the infusion of native materials such as sea shells, wood, banig (hand-woven mat) and bamboo. Nothing can get as cozy as this! The bedrooms also carry the rest of the homestay’s interiors. But the best part is that there is no need for air-conditioning. Because of this, expect four layers of blankets and comforters to keep you all bundled up and warm while you’re in dreamland.There are two rooms to choose from.
The Kayman Room is for six persons, while the Anchong Room is for four. If the weather gets grumpy, an indoor stay at the veranda is best. It’s the spot for indoor activities such as card games and charades, which are perfect for screen-free quality time with your loved ones.
What to do The farm grows about more than ten different crops. Lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, purple and green cabbages, New Zealand spinach, different types of kale, Swiss chard, beetroot (or sugar beets), carrots and different kinds of pechay. Fruit trees such as mulberry (a berrylike purple fruit), peaches and avocado are all over the place, too.
Owner-cum-guide Jefferson took us around the farm to give us a glimpse of farm life and an appreciation of organic farming.
The first stop is the Nursery, where seedlings of mostly vegetables and some fruits are grown, prior to planting them in the Grow-out Area–the next stop of the tour. Here is where the plants are left to mature for harvesting. The last stop is the Composting Shed where compost is made, specifically, a safe and chemical-free pesticide known in the organic farming industry as wood vinegar. This is what makes Lily of the Valley’s fruits and vegetables 100 percent healthy!
The most fun I had, which is worth mentioning, is during the visit to the Grow-out Area. We were allowed to harvest carrots there. When I pulled one out, which was about three inches long, I immediately wanted to return it into the soil. It looked like it needed to “mature” some more. But Jefferson assured me that it was, in fact, already mature. Later, we juiced the very same carrots we harvested.
Camping Walking through the kale plantation leads to the camping site. Here, there’s a tent that fits four people and a bonfire area. Unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm during our visit, so instead of camping, we stayed indoors and roasted marshmallows in the fireplace while drinking fresh mulberry juice. “CLEAN” FOOD The Lily of the Valley Café offers home-cooked, organic meals created by Eliza. One of the best parts of eating in this quirky place is that she enthusiastically introduces the farm’s products to eager guests. When asked about which dishes are their best sellers, Eliza says that there are none. This is because the menu changes, depending on what vegetables are harvested during a particular period. Personal favorites of mine, which are definite must-tries, are the Pumpkin, kamote and kale soup; and the mouthwatering avocado ice cream with cheese, walnut and dark chocolate.
ALL JUICED UP
Lily of the Valley also offers a natural juicing program: a seven-day detox during your stay at the farm. Eliza, who asks guests to undergo a series of blood tests, designs each program to suit individual needs. After, she then prepares the perfect juice combinations to purge the body of toxins.
CLICK FOR A QUICK RIDE
Should you choose to ride a bus to the farm, experience the convenience provided by online service Pinoy Travel .
Go to the website to select your destination and travel date (it’s best to book your bus seats at least three days prior to your trip). A list of buses will appear. All you have to do is select which bus liner to go with and the service will book the seat for you—no need to stand in long queues to do all this. Payment methods are either online or at selected banks and money transfer services.
Once you get to Baguio, you can then catch a jeepney to La Trinidad. Get off at Sitio Ampasit and then hike the 800-meter flat and cemented trail to farm. And, don’t worry, both owners are there to meet and guide you to the farm, where hopefully, you will unearth your green mind (pun intended) to start your journey towards healthy living.
Lily of the Valley Organic Farms is located at MC-075 Sitio Ampasit, Puguis La Trinidad, Benguet 2601 Cordillera Administrative Region; tel. (921)217 0430; Email ; Like <facebook.com/LOV organicfarm>
Pinoytravel is located at c/o IdeaSpace Foundation, Inc. 10F PLDT MGO Building, Dela Rosa St., Makati 1226, Philippines email <firstname.lastname@example.org>