It was nice to come back to all that after so much time away and be able to top-up those memories for later enjoyment. If you can look past the newly-opened SM mall, you'll see that not much has really changed. All the elements that make it the summer capital of the Philippines are still there.
And whenever I come to Baguio, I am a woman on a mission. That is, to bring home the best lettuce, broccoli and strawberries, among other things. Benguet, the province that surrounds Baguio and La Trinidad, is after all the Salad Bowl of the Philippines. It is also called Strawberry Country as this is the only place in the entire country where strawberries thrive.
I was quite happy to make my purchases at the well-stocked city market but I was beyond delighted when we were invited to pick our produce from an organic farm in La Trinidad! My friend's lovely aunt arranged it all for us.
curly leaf parsley
Fifteen minutes later, we turned into an unmarked dirt road and we passed several greenhouses to our left. She explained that inside those greenhouses was where experimental farming was being conducted. We arrived at what looked like the main greenhouse as it appeared to be the biggest of them all. Johnny, the resident farmhand, was expecting us. With knife in hand, ready to hack away, he led us into the greenhouse where row upon row of the most vivid shades of green greeted us.
Top row: broccoli and red beets
Bottom: cherry tomatoes and bell peppers
I ogled the broccoli plants, I had never seen a broccoli plant before. At first I didn't know what they were, these huge blue-green leaves. It was only when I bent and peered into the center did I see the familiar little head hidden among the leaves. Such a big plant that takes up so much precious fertile space, for such a small harvest. I asked if the leaves were edible. Nope, Johnny shook his head, they're used for compost. Interesting. No wonder they command quite a hefty price.
There were cherry tomatoes on the vine, gorgeous beds of parsley, red and green bell peppers hanging from their stems like shiny ornaments on a short and wide christmas tree, various lettuce varieties such as leaf and romaine, and of course the strawberries. Those elusive (to us lowlanders) little red gems that cost an eye once transported to Manila. We each bought 5 kgs of strawberries (P60/kg), 2 kgs of broccoli and about 8 kgs total of the other vegetables (all for P50/$1 per kg each) to be divided among ourselves. Now that's what I call a sweet deal.