Farm fun at Costales Nature Farms

Here’s an endeavor that I’m throwing my full support behind: organic and sustainable farming at Costales Nature Farms!

The Philippines with its more than 7,000 islands is best known for its gorgeous beaches. How many people go there to visit a farm? Not many, I suppose. But I read about Costales Nature Farms and it piqued my curiosity. Sustainable and organic. No pesticides and chemicals. Zero waste. How do they do it? I decided to find out.

The drive from Quezon City to Majayjay, Laguna took three hours straight via C-5 and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). The drive back to Quezon City took four hours. Whew!

Costales Nature Farms offer different tour packages (you can find it here). I managed to do the 3PM Lakbay Aral Tour (PhP260 = US$5.20). It included vegetable snacks and a guided farm tour, plus free WiFi access (which I didn’t get to use during my visit).

Before the tour began, what turned out to be “vegetable snacks” were a vegetable salad and a refreshing glass of fresh cucumber juice! The salad had lettuce, radish, carrots, cucumber and alfalfa sprouts – all grown on the farm.

Here are the photographs I took during the farm tour.

The secret behind Costales Nature Farms is best summarized in four words: Effective Microorganism Activated Solution. You’ll find out more about it when you visit. If you want to experience farm life, they offer cottages that accommodate two to twelve persons. Tip: If you’re going there, wear boots. The farm has muddy areas, of course, so traipsing around in sandals is a no-no.

I was very impressed with their organic animal farm. If you’ve ever been to a regular animal farm, then you know that most of the time, the smell isn’t really quite up to snuff (or sniff). But the piggery at Costales does not smell bad. The pigs also look lean and healthy, and they have ample room to roam. Even the chickens were walking about; one went rogue, roaming outside of its cage, but the tour guide told me that it goes back to the right cage anyway, so I shouldn’t worry.

An interesting discovery for me was magic fruit (or miracle fruit) given to me by my tour guide. She peeled a calamansi for me, told me to eat the magic fruit and then eat the calamansi. The magic fruit made the calamansi taste sweet! Amazing.

After visiting this place, I decided that a longer visit next time is definitely in order, especially since I didn’t get to eat at Apong Damian’s Organic Resto. Have you been to Costales Nature Farms?

Costales Nature Farms
Brgy. Gagalot, Majayjay, Laguna
Website, Facebook

Detroit Zoo permeable pavement parking lot

Detroit Zoo unveils its new parking lot

“How could a parking lot be green?” some of you might be asking. In quite a few ways, if you do it like the Detroit Zoo did it. The zoo recently opened up a permeable pavement parking lot off of Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, close to the Polk Penguin Center. With 215 parking spaces, this new parking lot features a permeable pavement, which is more porous than standard concrete. Water seeps through the pavement and is naturally absorbed by the soil beneath the pavement. Therefore, there’s less stormwater runoff that makes it to the sewer system, lessening the load of water during storms and preventing the sewers from overflowing as a result.

Moreover, the permeable pavement can also filter pollutants from the water. It’s also pretty easy to clean and maintain; some sweeping and vacuuming are enough.

The creation of the permeable pavement parking lot, which is the largest of its kind in the county, is the latest effort being made by Detroit Zoo as part of its Greenprint effort, which aims to implement sustainable business practices. As part of the Greenprint effort, the zoo no longer sells bottled water, and it also purchases its electricity from wind farms. A future project is the development of an anaerobic digester, which will convert animal manure into methane gas, which will power the zoo’s animal hospital.

Photo by Jennie Miller/The Detroit Zoo

The current state of eco-friendly travel in the US

The whole eco-friendly craze is over…because more and more people have adopted it as an actual way of life rather than as an alternative. Travel is definitely one aspect that should grow increasingly greener. So how is eco-friendly travel doing in the US these days? A Federal Times article entitled “Green of the road: Airlines, hotels, cars more eco-friendly” reports that everything is a lot greener these days, from aircrafts to hotels to rental cars.

The Deer Watch Inn

We just love B&Bs here at Green Unlimited, so every now and then, we’ll be posting about some eco-friendly B&Bs around the U.S. and around the world as well. If you know of a great B&B you think we should know about or you own an eco-friendly B&B, we would love it if you could write to us!


Rosemary Azalea room at Deer Watch InnIf you’re thinking about heading up to the Catskills in New York, consider staying at the Deer Watch Inn. The bed and breakfast is located in Greene County (appropriate) and the structure was a cottage in the 18th century, eventually becoming a boarding house and then a private residence.

The inn makes sure to provide guests with a comfortable, safe haven and keeps the environment in mind by using energy-efficient lights and appliances as well as solar panels. Rain barrels and clotheslines are also used to make its operations greener, and the inn has made the switch to non-toxic cleaning supplies. In addition, the rooms are all non-smoking and food includes organically grown produce and herbs from the organic garden within the property.

Thyme in the Country

We just love B&Bs here at Green Unlimited, so every now and then, we’ll be posting about some eco-friendly B&Bs around the U.S. and around the world as well. If you know of a great B&B you think we should know about or you own an eco-friendly B&B, we would love it if you could write to us!


Thyme in the Country I can’t express how much I love B&Bs. They’re often more like cozy, pretty, well-tended homes that are usually a far cry from what your home is like, and when you’re staying in one, you may start wondering why you can’t get your own home to look as nice. Or maybe that’s just me. But you can’t deny that many B&Bs are especially charming and the ones that are in a different location stand out and promise you a relaxing stay.

Take Thyme in the Country in the city of Hudson in Columbia County, New York as an example. Thyme in the Country is actually an 1880s farmhouse and boasts five pastoral acres. The farm is actually a working farm, and the vegetables and fruits that are part of the B&B’s organic breakfasts all come from its one-acre organic garden. They also make sure that pesticides and chemical fertilizers play no part in their farming.

It’s not only the food that makes Thyme in the Country an eco-friendly B&B. They collect rainwater which will be used for their gardens, and 66% of their electricity comes from solar panels. They also compost any food scraps. In addition, recycling plays a major part in the B&B’s operations, with recycled items–from toilet paper and tissues to fixtures and countertops–being used as much as possible. The rooms feature organic mattresses and natural fibers.

These features and the location make Thyme in the Country seem like a great place for a quick weekend getaway, where you can just relax and enjoy your surroundings. You might even want to do more than just eat and sleep here, and actually hang around and be there, without treating it as a stopover or a mere place to sleep.

Cottage Lodge in England

We just love B&Bs here at Green Unlimited, so every now and then, we’ll be posting about some eco-friendly B&Bs around the U.S. and around the world as well. If you know of a great B&B you think we should know about or you own an eco-friendly B&B, we would love it if you could write to us!


Cottage Lodge, Brockenhurst, England

Cottage Lodge in Brockenhurst, England is known for being eco-chic, but that term just makes it seem like it’s being trendy when the B&B is genuinely doing its best to be kinder to the environment. For one thing, its breakfast room features tables made out of a black poplar tree that fell in a nearby school. The bed in the Gillies Holt room came from sustainable sources.

What would really have a lot of environmentalists buzzing, however, is the Standing Hat room. Aside from being incredibly gorgeous, it’s also solar-powered. And for those who are looking to unwind in the room and watch some TV, well, you’re going to have to work to be able to do so. Cottage Lodge has just fitted a bike in the room which will power the TV. It’s definitely a good way to watch some shows rather than just sitting around, plus you’re doing something good at the same time.

Green things spotted on our Massachusetts holiday

So this post is severely late, because my sister Lani and I were in Massachusetts for a quick holiday in October last year. Still, I figured any green news is good to hear. We hung around the Berkshires on our trip, spending a day at the Kripalu Center where we went on a two-hour hike around the area, had some pretty good meals, attended two yoga classes, and in the evening, attended a sort of concert featuring Danya and Eyal. When we had some free time, we walked around Kripalu’s grounds and saw the Annex.

Kripalu Annex

The building was designed by Peter Rose of Boston’s Rose+Partners Studio. It uses a radiant heating and cooling system, and also uses “raw wood salvaged from the Hurricane Katrina tidal surge”, according to The Berkshire Eagle (PDF). It also has linoleum floors made from linseed oil. Check out more info on the Kripalu Annex here (PDF).

As part of our trip, we visited the Hancock Shaker Village. We walked around after the tour and came upon solar panels used to power the village.

Hancock Shaker Village
Spoon
in Lenox gave us a taste of some yummy, organic food when we were in town. I did a review of the place in my food blog. The restaurant pledges to stay local by getting their ingredients from local farmers.

Overall, it was a very good holiday, and it really was very nice to see so many places that operate with the environment and sustainability in mind.

A restaurant powered by urine?

Okay, that doesn’t sound like the most appetizing thought, since nobody wants bodily fluids going anywhere near food. It all makes sense, however, when you figure out how it works. The Greenhouse project, designed by Joost Bakker, is an example of how a restaurant can become waste-free. Aside from using eco-friendly and recycled materials for the structure–including ECO-ply plywood and soybean-based glue–the electricity of the restaurant is powered by canola oil. So where does the urine come in? The restaurant’s toilets are specially made to collect urine, which is then diluted and then used as fertilizer for the restaurant’s crop of canola. It’s a clever, unusual idea which would be nice if it were done on a wider scale. We can’t help wondering about the state of the toilets, though, and how the urine collection is done or if the process promotes cleanliness in the bathroom.