By YVETTE TAN
I visited Bukid Amara in Lucban, Quezon, a popular vegetable and flower farm among both tourists and farmers.
The 2.5 hectare farm is a sight to behold. The first thing that catches the eye is a field of different types of flowers that stretch out from the farm entrance towards a man-made pond filled with tilapia, with the mystical Mt. Banahaw peeking out from its cloud cover just beyond.
The flowers grown are annuals, and can be changed according to the season, so for example, couples who visit during Valentine’s Day will be greeted by a sea of red. The only blooms that remain constant are the sunflowers, which are the crowd favorite.
A close up of a begonia, one of the many flowers that can be found in Bukid Amara. (Yvette Tan)
Bukid Amara is a tourist hotspot for locals as well as for folks in surrounding provinces, some coming as far as Metro Manila, which is three hours away without accounting for traffic. A P150 entrance fee (P120 for students, PWDs, and seniors) allows visitors access to the farm, which includes the flower field, pond, and in-house restaurant. Farm activities include cut-and-pay flowers and fish-and-pay (and paluto). The farm also allows for small events to be held there, and is constructing a holding area so bigger celebrations can be held.
The 2.5 hectare farm is a sight to behold. The first thing that catches the eye is a field of different types of flowers that stretch out from the farm entrance towards a man-made pond filled with tilapia, with the mystical Mt. Banahaw peeking out from its cloud cover just beyond. (Yvette Tan)
The flowers aren’t only beautiful to look at–they’re edible, too! Guests can experience this when they dine in the cafe, which serves food decorated with the edible blooms. We had the salad and the pancit habhab, the latter a Lucban specialty which gets its name from the way it’s eaten–placed on a banana leaf which is lifted to the mouth with one’s hands. Both were just as delicious as they were eye-catching. The vegetables in the salad are picked on-site, and the flowers add color and vibrancy to the dishes, resulting in a weird, but welcome sort of joy during the meal. It feels like every meal at Bukid Amara would feel like a fiesta.
A popular dish in Bakid Amara Cafe is the salad, which features edible flower petals. (Yvette Tan)
The farm isn’t just well known for its blooms. The farm is owned and run by horticulturist Michael Caballes, a well known name in the farming industry. A former executive for a seed company, Caballes is known for his business acumen, enterprising spirit, and interest in experimentation.
Behind the flower field are several domed net greenhouses that house different things–hydroponic setups, vegetable seedlings, flower nursery, and a Japanese melon grow house. Bukid Amara is the only farm in the Philippines that has successfully grown Japanese melons, the type that can go for as high as USD1000 per piece in auctions in Japan. It’s known for its crisp sweetness and its uniform, blemish-free exterior. The melons are hard to grow and demand a lot of care and attention, hence their high price. While Bukid Amara’s melons aren’t as expensive as the ones sold in Japanese auctions, they are priced higher than usual in the Philippine market, and with good reason. They are grown in a hydroponic setup, the fruit covered in newspaper to prevent overexposure and accidental bruising. It’s one melon to one vine, with everything, from the nutrient solution down to the number of leaves on the vine accounted for.
Bukid Amara is the only farm in the Philippines that has successfully grown Japanese melons, the type that can go for as high as USD1000 per piece in auctions in Japan. (Yvette Tan)
The farm also holds training sessions for beginner and experienced farmers, as well as agriculture students. Caballes is very interested in experimentation, so many of the greenhouses are set aside to test things, which include prototypes of agricultural machinery. He also uses his acquired knowledge to help fellow farmers both increase their yield and fortify their businesses, often for free. For example, he is a consultant for the Korea Program on International Agriculture (KOPIA), which aims to bring the Korean agricultural mindset and technology to developing countries.
Behind the flower field are several domed net greenhouses that house different things–hydroponic setups, vegetable seedlings, flower nursery, and a Japanese melon grow house. (Yvette Tan)
So whether you’re the type to smell flowers, grow flowers, or eat flowers, if you’re in Lucban, it would be worth your while to drop by Bukid Amara.
Inside one of the greenhouses used to cultivate flowers. (Yvette Tan)
Photos by Yvette Tan