Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Benguet: Strawberry Fields are Forever at La Trinidad

Wazzup Pilipinas!

Every time you mention Baguio, the first things that comes into mind are pine trees and strawberries, aside from the Panagbenga Festival, the cold climate, and the sweet delicacies at Good Shepherd like the Ube Jam. Of course, there's the popular tourist spots like Camp Jon Hay, the Mines View, the Burnham Park, and the many emerging restaurant favorites like Oh My Gulay offering veggie dishes which we visited during our previous trip sometime last week of February of 2015.

You have to try their strawberry taho and ice cream but be warned that there's a big difference in the preparation where you buy it. It is highly recommended you buy them from places not in Baguio but near the Strawberry Farms of La Trinidad. Benguet.

It is here where you get to pick strawberries on your own together with the Ibaloi farmers. Just a friendly reminder that it will cost you twice the amount if you pick the strawberries yourselves. They say you're paying for the "awesome" experience and the delight in picking the best strawberries in the farm. Some will argue it should have been cheaper because they save on the labor or effort to harvest.

But the real reason why it costs more is because strawberries are actually very delicate compared to picking apples and oranges (like in other countries). The farm owners find it reasonable to ask for an additional cost when amateurs harvest the strawberries. Newbies would tend to damage the strawberry shrubs so half the cost was allocated for the risk. Prices will vary depending on the season. Of course it's a lot more expensive during the summer when a lot of tourists flock the already considered iconic site.

A look around the Strawberry Farm of La Trinidad, Benguet will prompt you to try picking your own strawberries. If only we arrived before the actual harvest, we could have tried it. However, there were not too many good pieces left so we decided to just buy from the stalls outside the farm.

We were in Baguio during the last week of February when the Panagbenga Festival was reaching its end. The group decided to visit the strawberry farm first before watching the parade so we got to the parade late when it was already nearing the end. They just harvested the farm so there were not too many good pieces left to harvest. Most that were left were either too young or in awkward shapes.

You will also find other vegetables at the farm like different varieties of lettuces. The farm is huge and the climate is obviously always cold especially during the ber months. Your Pambansang Blogger ng Pilipinas couldn't resist walking throughout the farm to take photos. But I couldn't really get better photos because of the heat and the sun that made it too difficult for me to focus on the strawberries. I bought vegetables aside from the strawberries. I brought home two boxes from the farm - one full of strawberries and another one full of lettuces.

The Strawberry Farm is just 30 minutes away from Baguio city proper (that's around 3 km) and ideal months to visit is from November to May. Having a total land area of almost 8,300 hectares, the municipality of La Trinidad consist mostly of mountains, rivers, and springs. The floor elevation is 1,300 meters above sea level which explains the cool temperature in the valley that's perfect for growing strawberries all year long. But still, the best time to go strawberry picking is during the first quarter of the year, most especially during the summer month of March.

It might be actually better to buy at the stalls outside the strawberry farm because you'll find it easier to pick the best instead of having to scour the farm. You could probably get a discount if you buy as a group. They'll even give you extra pieces if your nice enough. :)

To commute to the Strawberry Farm from Baguio City, you can ride the jeepneys bearing the “Buyagan” sign. The jeepney terminal is located just outside the Baguio City Hall. The jeepneys route traverses through Baguio, La Trinidad, and Bontoc Road. You can get off at the Benguet State University where the Strawberry Farm is just walking distance.

They sell the best strawberry ice cream here as vendors and makers have easy and convenient access to the farms.

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