March 16, 2013 is the opening of the Negros Farmers Weekend Market

By Betsy Gazo
Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IN LINE with their corporate social responsibility, DC Cruz is opening the Negros Farmers Weekend Market on March 16, Saturday, at Magsaysay Road opposite the DC Cruz office.

Laid out on an L-shaped 1.2- hectare property, this market was conceptualized last December along the lines of the successful Saturday Salcedo Market at the Makati Business District, which in turn echoes the charming and bustling once-a-week open-air markets around Europe, especially, France.

The Salcedo Market is an exciting gathering of vendors offering fresh produce, cooked food from Filipino to international cuisines, meats, flowers, homemade delicacies among so many items. The Negros Farmers Weekend Market aims to afford a similar experience to the Negrenses.

The area will be divided into zones, from Zone 1 to Zone 5 and are designated as Production/Greenhouse Area, Suppliers’ Booth Area (to include a Spa/Massage Area), Food Area/Dining Tent which features kiosks selling ready-to-eat novel food items, Retail Area, and Organic Area. Ten percent of the Retail Area will accommodate “Arts and Crafts.” The Association of Negros Producers has been tasked to tap the local producers of artisanal crafts.

Plant lovers will have a blast here since the market is offering a place for the Garden Club of Bacolod. The buzzword around the island is, of course, going green so there will be a marked focus on agriculture. A pond in Zone 1 and a demo farm will feature quite prominently here.

Farmers’ training will be done to include topics such as drip irrigation and hydroponics, good handling practices, and agricultural practices. This will be a boon not only to the farmers but also to those who practice backyard gardening as a business.

To be realistic, a problem common in the agricultural industry is the transition from conventional agriculture to organic agriculture. This will, hopefully, not be a problem in the near future as companies involved in the industry increasingly go green and produce more green-labeled chemicals which are safer for the health and the environment. As of the moment, not all products at the market may be organic.

The market is a strictly producers-only venue. It does not allow resellers or traders except for stuff that cannot grow in Negros. In fact, the vendors must be farmers that reside and farm in Negros Island. Penalties are applied for misrepresentation of “Negros” or “Negros Organic” products. This rule is to assure the consumer of genuine Negros products which shows that the organizers are taking this rule seriously.

The opening is strictly at 7 a.m., so vendors are required to set up at 6 a.m. and get things ready by opening time. All producers are enjoined to strictly adhere to Food Safety Standards. Food vendors, male servers and male staff are not allowed to wear “sandos.” There should be no shouting, hawking, and other loud and objectionable tactics of solicitation.

Certainly, profanity is not allowed. Other restrictions include not allowing pets inside except for Pet Days. Also, vendors are discouraged to use the market as a dumping ground for surplus products that carry significantly lower market prices.

The no-plastic policy is carried over here and buyers of cooked food are encouraged to bring their own containers to avoid having to use plastic bags for their purchases.

Where does the corporate social responsibility come in? Any profit from the market, according to Ruby Cruz of D.C. Cruz, will go to the Herbe’s Garden Foundation which is meant to benefit the school put up by D.C. Cruz.

The Philippine Lumen School was set up by Ruby’s mother in 2010 in Barangay Abuanan, Bago City, at an agricultural area where the malnutrition rate is quite high. The 70-plus students enrolled here are all children of farmers and almost all of them are scholars. Those who are not scholars pay P350 a month and this already includes lunch, and books among other benefits.

The 7-hectare property is now the school for children until fourth grade. The vision of good education by Philippine Lumen School even extends to bringing kids from Philippine Science High School to teach here during the summer months.

The thrust of Philippine Lumen School goes hand in hand with that of the Negros Farmers Weekend Market.

The Market’s Mission Statement goes like this:

The Negros Farmers Weekend Market is a public educational project designed to enhance the knowledge and quality of life of consumers by providing farmers a direct market for their produce.

The market is committed to support sustainable agriculture, to promote local products and artisans and to help agro-tourism in Negros Island.

Both the school and the market aim to educate not only the minds but also the mindset of the locals, be they the farmers and the consumers, or the young generation that will someday continue to enrich our Filipino culture and raise our Filipino pride.

Interested participants may contact the D.C. Cruz office for information and reservations.