Thursday, October 29, 2015
Taiwan Farmstay 2 of 5: Fairy Story Village Organic Farm in Yilan 童话村有机休閒农场
Aren't this mother-daughter pair just adorable? Ms Wu Li Chu and her daughter are the sweet folks behind Fairy Story Village Organic Farm in Yilan, Taiwan. This was our second farmstay on the trip hosted by CTC Travel and Taiwan Leisure Farm Development Association.
Fairy Story Village is a certified organic farm, and has enjoyed organic certification for more than 7 consecutive years. They grow mulberry, sunflowers, roselles, golden tomatoes, dates, spring onion and seasonal vegetables.
You can enjoy fruit picking in different seasons: mulberry silkworm and gold tomato in spring; sunflower, longan and kiln control experience in summer; Persian chrysanthemum and roselle in autumn; and canola flower, spring onion and dates in winter.
At first sight, the farming area looks small but because it's separated into small lots divided by the main road.
But in general, it is a small place. There are just six cosy chalets, sharing a common courtyard.
The main compound is decorated with whimsical figures and has a small stream running across the garden. Looks like a few areas could use some cleaning, maintenance or repair.
This is the restaurant which has a view of the garden.
We were greeted with local snacks and homemade candied kumquats and roselles, with respective juices too. The onion biscuits below are super addictive.
Outside, there are various activities. You can feed the koi here using a milk bottle. Yes, they trained the fish to "suckle" the feed out from the bottle.
They have the fish spa - foot massage with alewife (fish) exfoliation. You can learn about silkworm baby ecology. There’s also a maze game to look for the Black Chinese Roach which weighs about 80 catty and measures 150cm in size. Fortunately it's not a monster cockroach, but a black carp. Phew...cos I would really hate cockroaches that size.
The focus here though is to have a taste of organic farm life.
After plucking roselles from the farm, we learned how to process them. Firstly, you need to de-seed them. There's a large bulbous pod inside which can be cooked and eaten. They mash it and add it to soymilk as a drink too. Apparently it has some tonic properties.
Roselle itself, a member of the hibiscus family, is said to have health benefits including relieving cough and fever, normalising blood pressure, reducing inflammation for renal and urinary systems.
The red casing or calyces of the roselles are blanched and cooled, then packed with sugar to cure. At this point they are still very tangy and crunchy.
You can make juice or tea with them, and they are high in Vitamin C (nine times more than citrus fruits) and antioxidants (anthocyanins that give it its rich purplish red hue). They can also be made into jam.
We all tried our hand at making scallion pancakes (葱油饼) which is a very popular snack here. Yilan's scallions or spring onions are famously plump and lush as the water from the mountain springs here is very good. In fact, Sanxing 三星 in Yilan is Spring Onion Town complete with a little Spring Onion Museum.
The pancakes are fun to coil and flatten; you may have made them before. They taste amazing when fried. I love scallion pancakes.
But the highlight here is the individual organic steamboat dinner. Each person gets a big bucket of freshly harvested organic vegetables, mushrooms, shrimp, clams and even a piece of crab. For the meats, you get a choice of beef, pork or mutton.
The broth is made from pork bone boiled with mulberry leaves for 8 hours. At the end of the dinner, it's made even richer and sweeter with all the ingredients infusing their flavours. Take your time to savour it.
I went for the mutton out of curiosity; I've never tried mutton in steamboat before. And I was not disappointed. It was deliciously gamey (in a good way) and tender. But all the meats are good - thick generous slices full of flavour.
We really enjoyed the dinner. And it's bedtime sooner than you think. Autumn in Taiwan means the sun sets around 5:30pm and by 7:30pm you'll feel like it's almost 10pm already.
The villas or chalets are very clean inside. All that wood makes it look warm and cosy. In my unit, we had three double beds, so technically we could sleep six in here. Two beds are on a platform area downstairs.
Kids would love camping up here in the loft, where the third double bed is.
The bathroom is small and it might be busy all the time if all six people did stay here. For a couple, this would be okay.
There is a deep plastic bathtub in the shower stall.
You wake up to a view of the organic farm with a floral fence in between.
Breakfast is freshly made bright and early in the morning. We laid the dishes out here to take photos. Normally they are on the sideboard.
Again, fresh organic vegetables make an appearance. Burdock, stirfried greens, spring onion omelette, pan-fried carrot cake, seaweed, braised tofu, mushrooms and homemade gluten accompany brown rice porridge topped with meat floss. Aside from soymilk, there's also toast and homemade jam (kumquat, mulberry) along with coffee and tea.
Fairy Story Organic Village Farm is useful as a base to explore the surroundings. It is only 5 minutes away from Plum Blossom Lake, Sanqing Temple, Luodong Sports Park and the famous Luodong night market (a must-see if you're in Yilan).
It is also a 10 minute drive from Wulaokeng Scenic Area (location of the Yilan Green Expo), Dongshan River Water Park (location of the Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folk Game Festival), King Car Whisky Distillery, Bajia Fish Farm, and Renshan Botanical Garden.
FAIRY STORY VILLAGE ORGANIC FARM 童话村有机休閒农场
No.300 Meihua Rd, Guanxing Village, Dongshan Township, Yilan
Tel: +(886) 3-935-1000
CTC Travel offers convenient packages that include the transfers to the farm.
3D/2N Land Package (S$338 weekdays; S$358 weekday and weekend; S$368 weekends)
* 2 nights stay in Leisure Farm
* Daily breakfast for two
* 1 lunch and 1 dinner for two
* Return transfers from Luodong Train Station
Thanks to CTC Travel and Taiwan Leisure Farm Development Association for the media trip
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