Sustainable tourism gems in Zambales: Palaya Shrimp Farm, Batungbacal Farm, and Zennor Hydroponics Farm

Palaya shrimp farm. Photo by Kenneth m. del rosario.

Zambales, a province in the Philippines known for its stunning beaches and breathtaking landscapes, has always been a popular destination for travelers. However, in recent years, a new trend has emerged in the tourism industry—sustainable tourism. Travelers are now seeking destinations that offer unique experiences, prioritize environmental conservation, and support local communities. During our recent NLEX Lakbay Norte event, we had the opportunity to discover three remarkable sustainable tourism destinations in Zambales: Palaya Shrimp Farm, Batungbacal Farm, and Zennor Hydroponics Farm.

the dala experience. Photo by Kenneth m. del rosario.
  1. Palaya Shrimp Farm

Located in the picturesque town of Masinloc, Palaya Shrimp Farm stands out as a pioneer in agri-tourism. While it is not the only shrimp farm in Zambales, it is the only one that offers accommodation for guests, providing them with an authentic farm experience. The farm began its operations in 2020, during the height of the pandemic, and this year, it started offering four rooms for guests. These spacious rooms can accommodate up to 14 people and are available for a reasonable price of P20,000 per night.

A visit to Palaya Shrimp Farm entails a P500 entrance fee, which is consumable. This means that the fee can be used to enjoy a delicious lunch at the farm’s restaurant. Speaking of the restaurant, it serves shrimp prepared in five mouthwatering ways: Halabos, Sinigang na hipon, Buttered garlic, Shrimp Thai curry, and Kilawin. 

Moreover, guests have the opportunity to participate in the “dala experience,” where they can harvest their own shrimp with the guidance of experts for only P600. The shrimp species raised at Palaya Shrimp Farm is the hipong puti or suahe.

Palaya Shrimp Farm takes an innovative approach to sustainable aquaculture. Unlike traditional shrimp farms that rely on destructive methods such as clearing mangroves and using harmful chemicals, Palaya Shrimp Farm follows environmentally friendly practices. The farm has developed a closed-loop system that utilizes natural filtration processes, ensuring zero wastewater discharge. 

This not only minimizes the impact on the surrounding ecosystem but also produces healthier shrimp. Visitors can take part in educational tours and learn about sustainable aquaculture practices while enjoying the tranquility of the farm’s surroundings. Moreover, the farm actively engages with the local community by providing employment opportunities and supporting various conservation initiatives.

mango picking at batungbacal farm.
  1. Batungbacal Farm

The history of Batungbacal Farm dates back to the 1970s, when Rico Batungbacal’s father purchased the land. Initially, his father was a weekend farmer, but now Rico resides on the 190-hectare farm, enjoying the seclusion and fulfilling work it offers. Batungbacal Farm employs modern farming techniques, utilizing irrigation and drip irrigation systems for the trees as well as the same system for fertilization.

The farm sells their delectable mangoes in 5-kilogram boxes at P200 per kilogram for what they call Class A mangoes. The mangoes from Batungbacal Farm are renowned for their exceptional sweetness, thanks in large part to being harvested at the perfect color and taste. To provide work during the off-season for mangoes, the farm has also planted papaya and honeydew.

Located in the scenic municipality of San Felipe, Batungbacal Farm is a shining example of sustainable agriculture and agro-tourism. This family-owned farm promotes organic farming methods and emphasizes the importance of biodiversity conservation. The farm uses farming techniques that allow them to use minimal chemical inputs. Its commitment to sustainable agriculture not only benefits the environment but also supports the local economy by promoting organic farming as a viable livelihood option.

For tourists who want to visit the farm or experience picking their own mangoes from the trees, it is recommended that they coordinate with the local Zambales tourism office for a smooth and enjoyable experience.

basil plants. Photo by Kenneth m. del rosario.
  1. Zennor Hydroponics Farm

Tucked away in the municipality of Cabangan, Zennor Hydroponics Farm showcases a modern and innovative approach to sustainable farming. Hydroponics, a soil-less cultivation method, allows the farm to grow a wide range of crops in a controlled environment using significantly less water compared to conventional farming. This technique also eliminates the need for harmful pesticides and herbicides. 

Visitors to Zennor Hydroponics Farm can witness the futuristic farming practices firsthand, learn about the benefits of hydroponics, and even sample the farm-fresh produce.

Named after a place in England that founder Rafael Pagaling visited as a tourist, the farm actively engages in knowledge-sharing initiatives, offering workshops and training programs to educate locals about sustainable farming techniques. By embracing hydroponics, Zennor Hydroponics Farm not only reduces its ecological footprint but also inspires others to explore innovative solutions for sustainable food production.

Established in 2016, Zennor Hydroponics Farm covers 4.4 hectares and is the first hydroponics farm in the province. Here, Rafael and his team cultivate plants such as basil, lettuce, and tomatoes using the hydroponics system. 

In addition to selling fresh produce, they also transform their harvest into other goods such as Zennor’s delicacies (similar to puto but with greens), lettuce chips, and basil oil. The farm operates as a functional farm, allowing visitors to witness the hydroponics process firsthand. To enter the farm, there is an affordable entrance fee of P375. Hydroponics, known for its efficiency, enables plants to grow up to ten times faster than traditional farming methods. 

As sustainable tourism gains momentum worldwide, destinations like Palaya Shrimp Farm, Batungbacal Farm, and Zennor Hydroponics Farm embody the essence of responsible tourism, providing visitors with memorable experiences while championing environmental conservation and supporting local communities. By integrating ecological responsibility and community development into their operations, these destinations not only provide unforgettable experiences for visitors but also foster a more sustainable future for Zambales and beyond.

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