Leviticus 20:24 in the Bible refers to a promise land called Canaan where milk and honey flows. In Biliran province, Eastern Visayas, a six-hectare uphill organic farm named Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden hopes to recreate this promise land on Earth. Found at the southeast side of Biliran Island, we paid a visit to this promising attraction that promotes wellness by going back to natural way of farming and simplicity of life.
Before the tour, there’s a mandatory briefing from Mr Jeffrey Espinazo, one of the nine siblings of the family that runs the whole farm. The rules are extensive and conservative since the family is very religious. Here are some of the major rules I would like to highlight:
- Dress appropriately. Meaning, no short shorts and sleeveless tops for females.
- No bringing of foods inside the farm especially junk food and processed foods. Organic food may be exempted.
- Smoking is not allowed within the farm
- Alcoholic drinks are not allowed
- Gambling within the premises are also not allowed
- Killing any insects or animals in the farm is not allowed. Leave them be.
Don’t be put-off by the Amish-like atmosphere of these rules as they are implemented for a good reason.
Back to Basics
Part of our group activity was to do a tree planting. There were seven young rambutan seedlings to be planted. A number of our companions took some from the seedling nursery and took a ride up hill. The flimsy looking wooden cart behind the tractor pulled us up a hill to where the trees would be planted. I saw a number of calamansi trees and mangoes too on a slope evenly spaced from each other.
The gals had a firsthand experience of digging through dirt, handling compost and finally planting the tree. I’m sure they felt triumphant and accomplished with their effort to have a tree they could call their own. The tree would be named after them and Canaan Hill Farms would update their owners on the progress of their tree’s growth. A squall caught us after the planting activity making us take an obligatory shelter by the nearby sheep and goats sheds. It was an adorable distraction as we came close to the flock of friendly sheep and goats. There also cute calves that were irresistible to pet.
Blissful Garden and Meals
The views and the manicured garden becomes increasingly picturesque as we ascend the hill. We could see Caibiran Bay and the outline of Mt Suiro, the highest peak on the island. My altimeter indicates we’re already 350 feet above sea level the highest point of the farm. From here, it became a bit breezy. There were cottages and benches for scenic stops. Vine-covered arcs for that attractive looking passage.
We had our lunch at one of the large pavilions on the hill. Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden prepared an all organic msg-free meal of native chicken tinola, fried fish, blue rice with flower petals and vegetables with gumamela (hibiscus) buds. They have interesting concoction of brewed drinks from the tumeric and guyabano mix as well as the ginger and lemongrass mixes. Both juices taste good, refreshing and natural. Much better than the commercial brews in the market.
Canaan Hill Farms
At the pavilion, Sir Jeffrey narrated the little story on how the Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden came to be. The organic farm may have opened last December 2015 but his parents Eduardo and Priscilla Espinazo has been working on the farm from the lowland up to the hills since 2010. From the grassy cogon-filled hills they managed to slowly manicure the farm to what it is now. The farm is also home to some endangered fruit-bearing plants like lomboy, malaigang and sarali.
Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden is like a garden of Eden. It’s a place to relax and even escape for a few days and live a simple life close to nature. Aside from the relaxing views and atmosphere, guest can pick vegetables and fruits and pay for the fresh produce per kilo. Natural farm products like Lemon Honey, Peanut Butter, Organic Eggs and Ginger tea are available at the shop. Not only is it a place for solitude and contemplation, the farm is wide enough for group activities. To strengthen team work in group activities in the farm.
Visitors can avail of cottages for day use and tents for overnighters.
- Cottage at Php 300 for whole day use
- Picnic Mats at Php 75 per day
- Farm umbrella at Php 50 each per day
- Balay Malison Php 1,000 for 30 pax. 9:00am to 5:00pm
- King David’s Court Php 1,500 for 40 pax. 9:00am to 5:00pm
- Jacob’s Tent for overnight stay for a big family. Beddings at Php 100 each
- Farm Tent good for 2 at Php 200 each per night
- Tractor Rides around the farm are also being offered at Php 100 for a max of 10 persons.
Entrance fee for day visits is Php 50
Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden
Uson, Caibiran, Biliran
Opening Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm from Monday to Saturday. Closed every Sunday
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.