When people talk about starting a garden or planting, one will immediately say, “I can’t do that. I don’t have enough space” or “Oh, you need a big lot or a farm for that.” I tell them, “Not really.” Gardening has evolved in such a way that small areas can now be utilized for planting. Numerous terms like wall/vertical garden, roof garden, trellis, container, dish or square-foot gardening are now common especially among urbanized areas. And there are those who have mastered the art of backyard gardening, and have taken it to a new level.
Such is the case of Jaya Secret Garden, located in Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, which is only about 40 minutes from where we live. What makes it different from all the other gardens found in this agricultural province of Bukidnon, is that this garden is located in the middle of the city! Its name aptly describes the place as no one will really know there is such a garden because it is situated in a totally inconspicuous area, surrounded by the hustle-and-bustle of the city.
The garden is owned by Junah and Hazel Bayag and their 12-year-old daughter, Jaya, after whom the garden is named.
The garden boasts of different high-value organic produce like vegetables and herbs, as well as tilapia, chickens, and ducks. All these arranged in a landscape spanning 2,100 square meters, and utilizing recycled materials such as old tires and used plastic bottles and containers.
Jaya served as our guide, explaining and showing to us the features of the garden. Everything in the garden is natural and organic. The mixture used to grow their plants in is a mélange of carbonized rice hull, vermi-compost (African Nightcrawlers) and soil. Nothing is wasted here! Vegetables that are past their prime or unusable are cut up and thrown into the compost box, and others are thrown into the fish ponds to feed the tilapia.
A notable feature is the fishpond which is encircled by used plastic containers where vegetables are planted. Water from the pond are used to wet the plants, then the excess water drips into the pond from the mouths of the containers, carrying with it nutritious bits from the soil, and nourishing the fish within. Quite ingenious!
After the tour, we were led into a small bodega-turned-dining-area-and-lecture-hall where Junah, a school teacher, apprised us about how they had started this garden and why. Our take away from our conversation was that gardening should be a family affair. Like them, everyone, is involved in the process of growing, maintaining, and harvesting. In the process, it provides for a bonding exercise for everyone in the family. From the time she was a young girl, Jaya has been hands-on with the building of the garden until now. In fact, at such a young age, she has already been guest speaker at various agricultural conferences and conventions!
We were surprised to learn that the area at the bottom of the hill was a garbage dump. It took the family over a month to clean it up, collecting over three dump truck loads of trash! What they found underneath all the rubbish was a spring of clean water!
Junah shared with us the benefits and the importance of gardening with family members. “Let them find the beauty of gardening and experience earning from it,” he said, further emphasizing to “Make gardening, and the lives of plants and animals, sustainable by going organic.”
This visit inspired us to pursue going organic at the farm all the more, and to pursue our long-time dream of setting up a farm tourism site in our locality. It is so heartwarming to note that there are people who think like us – people who are concerned with preserving the environment through sustainable organic farming.
Jaya Secret Garden Info
Address: Comisio St., Brgy. 1, Malaybalay City, Bukidnon
Mobile number: 0917-793-3303 | 0917-795-4449
Entrance Fee: Php 40
Note: Let them know ahead if you want to have lunch served.