SEARCHING for a good place to brighten up your day?
Visit Bucalan-Caci Sunflower Farm at Barangay RSB in La Carlota City, the newest attraction in the central part of Negros Occidental, where the oldest and most prominent sugar mills in the province are located.
This is a place where vibrant yellow petals brighten your mood.
Born into a family of plant enthusiasts, Chief Inspector Alvimar Flores - a native of La Carlota City, but presently assigned as chief of Pinamalayan Police Station in Oriental Mindoro - shared to SunStar Bacolod that his fascination with sunflowers started when he was working on the reformation process of drug surrenderers in Mimaropa region.
“I have been assigned to various places around the Philippines and I’ve seen a lot of theme parks and gardens but the sunflower really caught my eye,” Flores said.
Flores, a Spanish term for “flowers,” owns the sunflower farm but his father Vicente, a councilman in RSB village, manages it.
Flores said he came up with the idea of producing cut flowers instead of the usual agricultural products like rice and corn to provide drug surrenderers with unique ways of earning.
Their products are sold to local flower shops and they even supply to Dangwa, a known flower market in Metro Manila.
Because of its positive outcome in Oriental Mindoro, Flores suggested to his father to make use of an idle property in Sitio Bucalan and start a garden for recreation with only 100 seeds of sunflowers.
When the flowers started to bloom, people in the village started to notice. The farm even caught the attention of visitors.
“The public’s response is overwhelming. It was really unexpected,” Flores said.
However, because the space at their farm is limited and the area is hazardous to people because of the central’s waste disposal site, they transferred to the vicinity of the Central Azucarera de La Carlota (Caci) and developed a bigger garden with 3,800 seeds.
“Then we just adopted the name Bucalan because of our farm in Sitio Bucalan, where we live, and included the name Caci because the recent area is under the Caci management,” Flores said.
Established just over a year ago, a 1,500-square-meter landscaped space that used to be the sugar central mud press dump site now teems with different varieties of sunflower.
The garden features a small bridge. Among the sunflower varieties in the farm are Vincent’s choice, sungold, red, and dwarf.
Next summer, other varieties like rainbow mixed color, red lemon, little becka, rare pink strawberry blonde, lemon, and giant will also be planted. The seeds are being ordered from a supplier in Japan.
Sunflowers need at least eight to 10 hours of sunlight in an open space to fully bloom within three weeks.
Vicente said people can visit the farm for free because it is not intended for commercial purposes.
“It just feels good to see people leaving the place happy,” he added.
The farm may be reached after a one-hour land trip from Bacolod City, the City of Smiles.
When you arrive at the bus terminal in La Carlota City, you will have to ride a tricycle to the farm.
Before reaching the farm, you will pass by the famous iron dinosaur, a locomotive which was used to transport sugar cane in the past and is now considered a landmark of the city.
Other attractions at the farm include: love locks, an area where couples can hang padlocks symbolizing their everlasting love; a small garden, where they can sit under colorful umbrellas; and an area where they can have their photos taken on a wooden chair and table.
Vicente said other innovations will soon be made if they will be still be allowed by the Caci management to expand the farm.
“We are hoping that this will also promote tourism in the city,” he added.
The farm is being used as a venue for photo shoots of all occasions.
Vicente said they also accept orders for a stick of sunflower for P60, and seeds for P150. Rates for bouquets depend on the design by their florist from Bacolod City.
They also offer souvenir items made of sunflowers.
Since the farm officially opened on September 12, foreigners and visitors from the cities of Bacolod and Iloilo as well as from different areas in the province have experienced the “happy tour” at the farm.*