Thousands of sunflowers in this agro-tourism site in the quaint village of Maruaya in Piddig are once again in full bloom, drawing tourists back into the Ilocos Norte town and providing a more stable livelihood for local farmers.
Located about 25 kilometers or less than an hour’s drive from this city, the Piddig Organic Farmer’s Association developed a two-hectare flower farm and food garden as part of Piddig’s agro-tourism project, which aims to show the town’s best practices in sustainable agriculture.
Piddig municipal agriculturist Harvey Adap said the farm showcases diversified organic farming systems and is a model for the national government’s convergence initiative program.
“While we develop the farm as an agro-tourism enterprise, we also teach our farmers how to make more income through diversified farming. We help them organize as a cooperative and employ new technologies to improve their productivity with the help of various government institutions,” he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Thursday.
Aside from rows of sunflowers, the farm also features colorful art installations the locals themselves designed for instant attraction.
Since its launching in 2019, the Piddig agro-tourism project has spurred local employment, with farmers earning not only from the sale of their various farm produce but also from the collection of entrance fees.
Farm workers said they are thankful for the continuing development of the area as it sustains their livelihood.
“I’m so much grateful for this project. I learned a lot about modern farming as an enterprising business,” Noel Gacho, a resident of Piddig town, told the PNA also on Thursday.
Aside from hiring farm laborers to look after the plants and animals, tourist guides have likewise been hired as tourists started flocking the farm.
In-season fruits and vegetables are also available for “pick and pay.” Every year, the Piddig sunflower farm continues to evolve with more features and amenities.
This year, more Instagram-able sites are available including a lagoon with a center island gazebo, a hobbit house or reading nook, a petting zoo with farm animals, a pond where visitors can catch fish and grill them at rented cottages.
The farm currently collects an entrance fee of PHP50 per person. Children aged 12 years old and below are free of charge. The farm is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily even during holidays.
Among the latest development in the area is the construction of a stone masonry slope protection on a portion of the Maruaya Road. (PNA)