I dream of an environment where nature and people co-exist in harmony. At Palaya Natural Farm, this is a reality.
A scenic view at the peak of Palaya Natural Farm involves an ubiquitous greenery, adorned by more than 10,000 concrete posts that hold the dragon plants in place. This vast field that nestles within the mountains of Tanay, Rizal and spreads on both sides of Cayabu River envisions to be the largest dragon fruit plantation in the Philippines by 2020.
Because their stems are thick and heavy, and the fruits can take an aggregate weight of up to 30 kilograms per post, the dragon plants cannot stand on their own. The concrete posts, which are reinforced by iron and crowned by a rubber tire at the top, serve as a vertical support for the dragon plants, especially during the fruiting season (April to May). They also ensure that the plants get an equal amount of exposure to sunlight.
The dragon plants grow from an organic soil that is treated using the natural methods of farming – zero chemicals. The farm also has a system that fetches water from the river and mountains.
“Smoking is even prohibited in the farm,” one of the farmers told us, “the cigarette butts might still contain chemicals that might harm the soil.”
Organic products nowadays are increasingly gaining attention because of their healthful benefits that can prevent lifestyle diseases. The solution is to go back to the basic and return to nature.
At Palaya Natural Farm, farmers allow the dragon plants to bear flowers and fruits the natural way. This takes time and this is the reason why the fruiting season is not very often. The fruits are allowed to mature naturally which guarantees that they are fresh, organic, and safe for consumption.
As we began our descent from the summit of Palaya Natural Farm, I thought of life:
Of how quickly we can fall trap of wanting to get things done in an instant; of how our impatience can get us into trouble; of how we eventually suffer the consequences of our desire to hasten the process; of how unnatural we become when we defy nature and not let it take its natural course; of how swiftly we give in to our feelings only to end up with the wrong person; of how we try to help God speed up His timing because we cannot bear the boredom of waiting.
I am hats off to these farmers of Palaya for their respect for nature, for their patience to wait until nature takes its turn to provide the abundant harvest that is due their time and labor.
Palaya Natural Farm does not only guarantee organic produce, but it also provides a decent source of livelihood to families in the surrounding communities.
It is a vision of the farm to share its wealth of life-giving treasures to the community by employing local farmers. This is a testament to how agriculture can be used as an effective way of combating hunger and poverty.
The farm hosts the Palaya Market Day, which is held every first Saturday of the month. The event showcases the farm’s freshest, greenest, and sweetest crops that visitors are welcome to purchase at a cheaper price.
While the vast area of the farmland is dedicated to the production of dragon fruits, the farmers also grow a variety of fruits and vegetables like banana, mango, star apple, okra, eggplants, string beans, and lettuce.
Our visit to Palaya Natural Farm gave me an insight as to how generous nature can be with provisions that can sustain our living.
In reciprocation, we have to nurture it and advocate its protection. We have to be responsible stewards of nature by respecting its ways and protecting it from wanton abuse.