By Nikky Necessario

A day of leaving the city and experiencing farm life is what ‘Balik Bukid Jr.’ or what used to be just ‘Balik Bukid,’ has been offering these past few years. This year’s fair added the ‘Jr.’ to its name with the intention of focusing more towards kids, and also because the venue was smaller than in previous events.

Balik Bukid, or back-to-farm, is Hindy Weber-Tantoco’s brainchild; but this year, her business partner Melanie Go joined in organizing the event. “Just to disconnect from everything and reconnect with nature,” Go said. The two founded Holy Carabao Farms in Sta. Rosa, Laguna where Balik Bukid Jr. took place.

The program aims to connect children to nature and to lessen their reliance on mobile phones and other gadgets. They wanted to showcase the ‘bukid’ life where children can enjoy getting dirty, playing with farm animals, and exploring different farm activities. Balik Bukid Jr. attracted many participants, which makes the duo believe that more fairs like this should be organized for children.

Back-to-farm recreational activities for children included feeding and playing with rabbits in Holy Carabao’s ‘Bunny Barangay.’ Carrots grown in the farm were sold at the event for children to feed not just to rabbits, but to goats as well. The kids also had the chance to see and pet native pigs in the ‘Pig Patio.’ There was also a mud pit where children could play and get dirty in beside the ‘Manok Mansion,’ where Holy Carabao’s chickens live. There were also carabao cart and horseback rides. ‘Balik Bukid Jr. Ropes’ were also tied to trees for unlimited zipline activities.

Aside from the farming experience that Balik Bukid Jr. offered, it also had different pop-up stalls that sold food, soaps, bags, and other organic and sustainable products, all curated by Weber-Tantoco and Go. They made sure that everything is organic and is closest to its natural state.

Being asked about their actions towards environmental sustainability, Go said, “We really believe that the entry is through food. That’s common to all of us.” Holy Carabao Farms believe that the sustainability mindset can be encouraged not just by providing food, but by raising the consciousness of people through food. Go also said that Balik Bukid Jr. is a way of introducing agriculture to children early. “They (the kids) really had fun. They leave without realizing that they’ve learned so much,” said Go. It is through hands-on and interactive learning that children have an easier time understanding farming. She also said that even an action as small as planting something in a pot is a good start to be exposed to farming.

“We teach [the kids] how to be compassionate, how to hold the animals, and you see the joy and delight in their faces when the pig eats the papaya leaf that they feed them. Things like that are priceless,” said Weber-Tontoco. They want to bring the innocence of childhood back, and that is why they intend to continue Balik Bukid Jr. for years to come.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July 2019 issue.

For more information, visit Balik Bukid on Facebook