Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Baguio: The Strawberry Fields of La Trinidad

The Strawberry Fields of La Trinidad

Probably one of the most iconic things to do while around Baguio City is to go and pick strawberries. The town adjacent to Baguio called La Trinidad in Benguet province provides travelers the opportunity to do just that. Fresh strawberries can be picked at your leisure and promptly eaten afterwards. Read on to find out more.

Okay, so you're in Baguio and you've done ze horseback riding in Camp John Hay, you've already gone to Mines View park and had your picture taken with those ginormous St. Bernards, and you're tired of riding around on those little swan boats they have in Burnham park. Question... What do you do next? You go pick some strawberries of course! (Na-na-na-na-na)

When one thinks of Baguio, one will definitely think about strawberries. These delicious little buggers are what moistens the taste buds of even the hardiest of food lovers this side of the country. It doesn't help that Baguio people make all kinds of stuff from these fruits like Strawberry cakes (Viszco's comes to mind) and Strawberry jams (Mountain Maid, anyone?) Heck, I've even seen some strawberry wine and I wouldn't mind trying that out either!

But have you ever wondered where they grow most of these things? Well I have. During my recent trip to Baguio, our little group found out just where we could pick these red treats ourselves.

Located around 15 minutes away from Baguio City proper lies the little town of La Trinidad. This little town has the honor of carrying the title of 'Strawberry Capital of the Philippines' and it does carry it proudly for a good reason. Nestled within the center of this town lies the Benguet State University Strawberry and Vegetable Farm or the BSU-S&VF (just kidding, I totally made that acronym up :p). This sprawling farm is located in the heart of the valley. It is as though a large carpet of vegetables and strawberries are growing right in the center of a bowl of hill houses and mountains that form its flanks.

What will greet you are rows upon rows of well manicured strawberry patches that dwell beneath white plastic canopies. You'll also be treated to the sight of large fresh and crisp lettuce and other vegetables that you wouldn't mind eating then and there. (Makes me wish I brought some salad dressing along.)

So how does one go about picking strawberries? Well, you can approach any one of the friendly farmers that are tilling the fields and throw them a pick-up line. Get it? Pick-up? Strawberries? Maybe not. But oh well. Woe is you. But seriously, just go up to any Farmer Juan and ask them if you can pick strawberries. They charged us Php 350.00 per kilo of picked strawberries but I've heard that you can haggle it down to as much as Php 250.00. So get your haggling skills out people.

To demonstrate how to pick strawberries, let my lovely girlfriend serve as your guide. (Lol).

So they give you a little basket that's good enough for a kilo, then they let you in their fence.

You can proceed to the rows that are ready for harvest. (It usually takes 3 months to grow a strawberry.) You'll notice that the plants are growing nicely out of clean cut round holes in the ground. The black plasticky stuff around the base of the plants are actually made of trash bag material. If I'm not mistaken, they are used to curb the growth of weeds. This is because only the areas with the cut round holes in them get water, sunlight and nutrients. Those areas under the black plastic are denied of these things. By denying the soil of these things, you will get less weeds. Less weeds mean less competition for your strawberries therefore meaning better fruit. Lol farmboy nerd talk.

So all you have to do is bend down (careful not to step on the plant bed!) and select the reddest of strawberries. Grip the strawberries with your fingers making sure not to pull out the attached stem and pull out the fruits only. (With leaves and all)

Place it in the basket and you've got one happy girlfriend! :)

Make sure to wash your strawberry thoroughly with clean running water before eating it! You might get sick if you eat it right off of the ground because as with any fruit or vegetable, these are sprayed with harmful pesticides during farming.

Sooner or later you'll realize that you have heaven in a basket. Thou shalt covet thy strawberries and you shall enjoy its red juiciness.

Look at those happy faces!

Oh and on your way out, don't forget to drop by one of the many vendors that mill about the entrance area to try out their fresh strawberry ice cream!

In case you're planning for a trip to the strawberry fields, here are some helpful links:

1. Go Baguio -  http://www.gobaguio.com/strawberry-farm.html#.UrA1XPQW024
2. DAR BAR Digest - http://www.bar.gov.ph/digest-home/digest-archives/367-2012-3rd-quarter/4415-julsep2012-benguet-straberries


Julio R.B said...

I feel that I have something very inappropriate to say about them strawberries but I won't... because I am a generous god

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