Monday, November 11, 2013

Weekend Tidbits: GK Enchanted Farm

Last Saturday, my parents, a cousin, and my nieces travelled to Angat, Bulacan to visit the Gawad Kalinga Enchanted Farm.  For the past month, my mom and I were dying to go and we finally got to do it.

For those who did not know such a place existed, here’s a description of the place from GK Enchanted Farm’s FB page:

"Named after the place of its origin, Bulacan’s Barangay Encanto—which connotes images of the supernatural and magical in Filipino—the Enchanted Farm is the canvas for Gawad Kalinga’s second phase of the 2024 road map to end poverty in the Philippines. Once idle and unproductive, the area is being transformed into a landscape of vast potential that will sustain communities for generations to come. The first of 24 CSI sites around the Philippines, The Enchanted Farm in Bulacan follows a template that fuses three different concepts. 

First is a Village University for sustainable community development where classrooms are connected to communities. An ideal site for any university student, the Enchanted Farm will expose students on how to start social enterprises and communities from the ground-up attracting students from all sorts of disciplines. Young children will come to the farm to learn and appreciate the growth of plant and animal life through explorer parties and camps. Residents of the GK village will be exposed to social entrepreneurship that can open a world of opportunities locally and globally.

The second component of The Enchanted Farm is a Silicon Valley for social entrepreneurship where young entrepreneurs are provided a supportive business ecosystem and an enabling environment to help them launch Filipino brands. Fifty of the most innovative social enterprises in the Philippines will not only be conveniently located on the Enchanted Farm to showcase their brands, but will also share in the resources of the farm and facilities.

The third component is a Disneyland for social tourism in which visitors from other parts of the Philippines and abroad can get a first-hand experience of the Gawad Kalinga community, and gain insight to the social problems that face millions of Filipinos. Through the magical stories of the Enchanted Farm, enchanting not only through stories of fairy tales of duwendes (Filipino for elf) but also real life experiences, tourists can see how dreams can become a reality in a nation where its people were once provoked to find solutions and greener pastures elsewhere.

Setting the tone for innovation and possibility in the Philippines, The Enchanted Farm is a development that will forever change the future of a nation consistently promised a better tomorrow but perpetually waiting for that day to come. A new dawn has arrived and it will continue to take shape in Barangay Encanto, at The Enchanted Farm."

The tour package included a tour of the farm, social enterprise demonstrations, and a buffet lunch.  The Farm currently houses a community of 50 families, most of whom work in the farm, and they also welcome interns.  The day we were there, there were business students from France and the UK who were completing their 3-6-month internships.

Aaaahhhh....the farm life!

 Our group was bundled with two more groups for the tour.  Ever since the farm was featured on Kris TV, they have been receiving guests everyday.  We were shown around the Hyundai Center for Green Innovation, Tita Cory's Garden, and the Multi-Purpose Hall as well as the homes of the Gawad Kalinga community members.

One thing we especially took note of were the light fixtures.  They were stapled plastic cups around a LED light. 

 We then proceeded to the Dairy Hut for a cheese-making demonstration.

 But even before the demo started, we were already drooling over this basil-flavored puto with ube and kesong puti which the farm produces too.

Goes well with their Bayani Brew -- lemongrass and pandan tea!  Real tea!

 That's my niece making kesong puti!

Lunch was served at the Grassroots Kitchen. I was super famished that I forgot to take photos but the spread included chicken curry with peanut sauce, sauteed green beans (it was the best!), sauteed squash, fried bangusm and camote tops.  Dessert included were bananas and pineapples.

 After lunch, we proceeded to another social enterprise -- Golden Duck.  Seeing how unhealthy salted eggs are made in the country (artificially red and too salty), the farm decided to produce their own salted eggs.

Instead of color red, they dye their eggs using turmeric; hence, the golden yellow color.  And we all know how healthy turmeric is. :)

 Next stop!  Plush and Play!  Perfect for a budding soft toymaker like me!

 All these fruit and vegetable plushies (named after celebrities like Anne Kamatis, Buco Martin, Sili Crawford, Jessica Saging) were handmade by the women of the community.

 My nieces stuffing a banana. :)

 Their Karpentoys are made from bamboo which are also grown in the farm. 

Just before the tour ended, we took a whiff of fresh farm air at the Bamboo Palace and stocked up on farm goodies to take home.  GK Enchanted Farm admits a lot of work still needs to be done at the place but what they already have is enough for curious folks like me to be introduced to social entrepreneurship.  If you love the farm life (you know me and my love affair with the provincial life!) or if you want to know more about setting up your own social enterprise or if you simply have kids whom you want to veer away from their iPads and gadgets, head over to the farm.  Like, right now. :)

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