When do you teach others to save the environment?
Start them young!
This is what the Bayag family of Malaybalay, Bukidnon did as husband and wife Junah and Hazel involved their daughter Jaya in their organic farming venture.
Named after their daughter, Jaya’s Secret Garden is no longer a secret as many people are going to their place to see how this home garden is attracting visitors.
For starters, you will be amazed that Jaya’s Secret Garden is actually situated in the midst of a residential area – relatively populated. It is quite unusual for quite abundant greenery to grow in that kind of area. So it is amazing of this family was able to pull through such a feat.
Since we arrived there a little after lunch, the Bayag family prepared meals made from the produce from the garden.
An array of mixed vegetables, duck, fish and chicken were part of the dishes.
The blue color of the rice is due to the flower Blue Ternatea, a natural food color, with the health benefits of memory enhancement, m nootropic, antistress, anxiolytic, antidepressant, anticonvulsant, tranquilizing, and sedative properties. Be noted that the blue ternatea did not affect the taste of the rice.
After the lunch, Junah, a school teacher, toured us around their garden, along with his 11-year old daughter Jaya (Jayashree Harsha) showcasing each highlight of the garden.
Jaya’s Secret Garden, which is a 2,100 sqm of residential property, was converted over time into an integrated diversified organic gardening.
Since the Bayag property is partially sloped, contour farming was applied on certain areas. Using not just rocks and cement to prevent soil erosion, Jaya’s Secret Garden used tires to hold soil from eroding at the same time as pathway for visitors and planting containers.
Jaya’s Secret Garden also shows how even a small garden can be self-sustaining as it has its own reservoir for watering the greens in the area. Junah also pointed out that the water itself is being recycled and utilized from top to bottom garden.
As a sample of maximizing water and area usage, the reservoir is surround by plants in holed container. Thus, when watered, excess water will drip on the side and go back to the reservoir.
Another simple, yet great idea, is growing fishes in the pond to prevent mosquitoes from growing in the watery area in the garden. Call that hitting many birds with one stone.
Jaya’s Secret Garden also demonstrates a balance between plants and animals being utilized by men – for food, fertilizer and back again.
So the garden itself produce virtually “no waste” as it sustains its organic fertilizers from the compost produced from animal and plant waste. Basically, everything goes around in cycle.
The Jaya’s Secret Garden is a good example of what people can do in their own garden to sustain both food for family, and a little for business. The garden maybe small, but with high-value crops planted in it, I believe it produces more profit compared to any bigger properties with just mono-crop.
Lettuce, herbs, pepper, to name a few, and other vegetables are the produce of this garden.
I even saw Carolina Reaper, the hottest chili in the world and the odd looking Chocolate Chili Pepper. Both were first for me to see.
It makes me wonder of what more can a bigger area produce if only given the right knowledge and motivation to plant.
Currently, Jaya’s Secret Garden is a self-sustaining garden for the Bayag family to consume, sell few produce and at the same time a tourist destination. So what seemed to be just a backyard farm is now an attraction to many for just Php 40 as entrance.
Based on the conversation with the family, there’s no stopping them now of being able to maximize the garden’s potential of planting more. It is very evident as every corner and side of the property is being used to carry plants, one way or another.
I just hope that many will be both challenged and inspired by the Bayag family to cultivate their own backyard garden. Even not on the scale that this family was able to. But at least to plant few plants just to add to the family’s dish.
To tour in Jaya’s Secret Garden or learn more about organic backyard gardening, you may contact them directly or the Agricultural Training Institute for organic farming.
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