Forest Wood Garden: Farm Tourism Destination With A Culinary Twist
Agriculture|July 2019

THE LUSH Forest Wood Garden at the foot of Mount San Cristobal, a dormant volcano rising 4,820 feet beside the mystical Mount Banahaw, at the southern fringes of San Pablo City in Laguna blossomed from a simple garden of colorful ornamental plants in mid2000 into a full working farm today.

Randy V. Urlanda

From fruit-bearing trees, to assorted crops and amazing bamboo species whose color ranges from yellow, pink and black, it has hundreds of wide-canopied forest trees and stands of coconut trees that literally cover the sky above the entire five-hectare farm.

In 2013, owners Joel Frago, a former OFW who worked as an inspector in an international oil tanker in Europe, and his wife Myrna, an artist and landscape designer, thought that the time was ripe to open the sprawling farm to the public, even before R.A. No. 10816, also known as the “Farm Tourism Development Act of 2016,” was signed by Pres. Benigno Aquino III into law.

As ill-luck would have it, on July 13, 2014, Super typhoon “Glenda,” a Category 5 hurricane with a sustained wind speed of 252 kilometers per hour, hit Luzon, barreling its way from the east through the Frago farm, its strong winds uprooting small trees and cutting down big ones like matchsticks. “Glenda” ran a wide swath of destruction along its path that upended the Fragos’ dream farm.

RISING FROM THE STORM

But Joel and Myrna, both devout Christians, considered the devastation of their farm more of a salvation. They could easily plant new trees and straighten the felled bamboo; but the good thing was that “Glenda” did was blow away and kill all the cocolisap, or coconut scale insects, pests that feed on coconut cells until it kills the entire tree. Since then, all the coconuts in the area have become cocolisapfree, bearing young coconuts that visitors claim to be the sweetest buko they have ever tasted.

Forest Wood Garden is three kilometers south of the city proper in Brgy. Santa Elena, and fifteen minutes from the highway through a narrow winding dirt road. The entrance looks unimpressive but once the guests enter the farm, its natural charm gets the better of everyone. It’s a farm theme park where guests can learn what the organic food they are eating looks like before cooking, or the type of fruit the refreshing juice they are drinking looks like before squeezing. Forest Wood is an accredited Learning Site of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI), whose aim is to educate and inspire people about how vital farming is to the community.

POPULARIZING FARM TOURISM

Recognizing the importance of agriculture in sustaining and enhancing human life, not just in terms of food production, but also in providing livelihood to a major portion of the population, then Pres. Benigno Aquino III signed into law R.A. No. 10816, also known as the “Farm Tourism Development Act, on May 23, 2016.

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