I knew it was something having to do with gardening and plants and not exactly sure, but I figured that since it was free and accessible by public transportation, and since I was sure it would be something different, I decided to give it a shot.
I must admit, though, that my kids were a little overtired by the time that we came, so I had to deal with a few too many meltdowns, which made it a bit hard for me to enjoy it as much as I wanted to. Despite that, the older kids did enjoy themselves, but I think I enjoyed the place more than they did, since we were in a bit of a rush and weren't able to get a full tour of the place because the manager was a little pressed for time. Here's what I learned about this place.
It is officially a farm for agricultural education, and it is paid for by the ministry of education and ministry of agriculture, with the express purpose of teaching children about gardening and the environment.
During the school year, schools come, often a few schools even in one day, and the kids garden in the greenhouses and in the fields, growing plants and taking some of what was growing home as well.
In addition to that aspect, there also is a plant "hospital" where people bring in their plants that are dying, and can take home any other plants, and then the center tries to bring these plants back to life.
Because it was in the summer, we could just come whenever, with a prior appointment, and got shown around the place, and were told to literally help ourselves to whatever we saw that we wanted. Free of charge, of course.
In one greenhouse there were these basil plants with giant leaves! I picked a bunch to take back to where we're staying, to make a salad for dinner tomorrow, and maybe also a pesto.
In another green house were some newly planted pineapple bushes, and some parsley.
I picked a bit of parsley, also to take back to where we're staying.
In the fields were a bunch of eggplant plants, and apparently they recently decided to pull up a bunch of tomato plants, since there was a big pile of compost looking things of dead tomato plants. Inside the pile though, were a bunch of tomatoes still on the vine, many that apparently ripened after being pulled off, so we helped ourselves to a few tomatoes from there.
What was cool was that, though I am really not familiar with cultivated plants, I know an awful lot about wild plants, especially their edible uses, but at the same time, people who know so much about cultivation often know very little about the "weeds". The man in charge pointed out a plant, Asiatic dayflower, which he said he hated, because it spread like crazy and took over everything, and is so hard to kill. I asked him if he knew what it was, and he told me the name in the local language. I then informed him that it was an edible plant; he tasted it and was shocked at how tasty it was! That was enough to make him decide that he didn't hate the plant anymore, now he's a fan, knowing of its edibility.
We then stopped in the greenhouse that was the plant rehab center. We can't really be carrying these plants back to my house after our trip, so I just asked our host if she wanted any plants, but she did not. However, another local relative wanted some plants, she didn't care which, flowers or herbs, so I brought her back a variety- a purple variety of clover, a lemon verbena plant, thyme, and a certain basil, maybe pineapple basil, and also another flower that I didn't know its name.
I brought back one lemon verbena plant for my husband as well, as lemon verbena tea is his absolute favorite, and he was so excited about that.
Entire cost of our trip, including all these plants? Just the bus fare there and back. And I even got day passes for the bus which wasn't expensive at all, so even transportation was minimal.
I found out from the manager that most cities in my country have a similar agricultural education place, and therefore I looked up and discovered that there is one in the city nearest to me. Hopefully it will work similarly, and we'll also be able to pick up a bunch of free plants there as we did here.
Have you ever heard of an agricultural education center? Do you have anything like this near you? Does this sound like an enjoyable place to visit?