Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Discover the Wonders of Jaya's Secret Garden in Malaybalay, Bukidnon

It was my first time to visit the city of Malaybalay in Bukidnon and one of the things I initially noticed is the truth of its tagline: "cool weather, warm people." There, we met the very accommodating Bayag family who owns Jaya's Secret Garden.

with the very inspiring Bayag family
The garden's name is very apt because it is accessed via a narrow side street that would eventually reveal a small paradise. Passing through houses and commercial establishments, one wouldn't think that there's a verdant place hiding in the middle of a very busy city.  

a secret garden in the middle of a busy city
Our group couldn't help exclaiming oohs and aahs at the beautifully kept property managed by a family of three. Another amazing revelation was finding out that Junah and Hazel's young daughter, Jayashree Harsha, would serve as our tour guide.

Jaya, our young and very knowledgeable tour guide
Before we explored the 2100 sqm. garden though, we had a very delicious lunch of blue rice (colored naturally using Blue Ternate flowers), fried red tilapia (super yum!), tinolang manok, adobong pato, and vegetables. There were also refreshing juices to choose from including one spiked with chili!

our delicious lunch
I found Jaya's Secret Garden as a lovely sanctuary that infuses inspiration to love nature more and start one's own food-producing areas in the backyard. However, it is very important to learn first how to take care of the soil. "Put more importance on the microbes more than plants. Many times, it's not what you see on the surface that matters most, but what is underneath," explained Junah. "When you take care of the soil, any plant can grow in it."

insect attractants keep harmful creatures from destroying the plants
At Jaya's they utilize various items such as kitchen wastes, carbonized rice hull, and vermicast (from African Nightcrawler worms) to create natural fertilizers. They also have natural insect attractants (to lure them away from destroying the plants) made of tuba, unprocessed brown sugar, and water.

recycled old plastic jugs as planters for lettuce
It was surprising to find out that the place used to be a garbage dump! Junah told us that the property was owned by his wife's parents and when they decided to develop the area, they discovered the presence of a spring. "And water is life wherever it flows," he acknowledged, adding that there's no El NiƱo in their garden because they are able to conserve all the water they have.

old tires are part of the landscape's aesthetics
Since the landscape is 100% slope, the family ingeniously collected old tires and used them to prevent landslides. The buildings, as well, help protect the place from soil erosion. The mosquitoes, on the other hand, are eaten by the fish.

I love the idea of having double-purpose planters beside the fish ponds 
I was further impressed by the ingenuity of putting recycled plastic bottles around the fish ponds, planting them with crops, and letting the excess water (filled with nutrients) drain towards the pond. That is such a cool concept!

freshly harvested organic starfruit, asparagus, and guava fruits
I hope the Bayag family's testimony would inspire more parents to start a home garden and encourage their children to also experience planting. "Let them find the beauty of gardening and experience earning from it," he advised and added, "Make gardening, and the lives of plants and animals, sustainable by going organic."

healthy organic fruits and vegetables
Pay a visit to Jaya's Secret Garden located at Comisio St. Brgy. I, Malaybalay, Bukidnon. Entrance fee is P40. For inquiries, email or contact 0917.7933303 / 0917.7954449. 

wise quote -  and it can be applied on many things :) 
Thank you once again, Agricultural Training Institute, for organizing the Region X Northern Mindanao organic agriculture farm tours!

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