LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
Brgy. Chairman Asuncion C. Aguilar (right) of BF International Village/CAA, and Rhoda Lodronio O Villar Sipag Foundation inside a greenhouse fully planted with leafy greens.

At the second annual gardening competition in Las Piñas City, we saw a number of participants who were really battered by the long dry and hot spell brought by the El Niño phenomenon. Their plants had been severely damaged by the hot weather, many of them withering into pitiful unsightly state.

But there are also creative gardeners who can defy the ravages of climate change. Just like the garden of Brgy. FB International Village/CAA under Brgy. Chairman Asuncion C. Aguilar, a retired school principal who is now orchestrating the barangay’s garden which won the top prize in the inter-barangay gardening competition under the auspices of the Villar Sipag Foundation.

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
Lady gardener of BF International Village/CAA shows off her harvest of radish grown the organic way.

This is the second time that we have been invited to be one of the judges. There were a total of 30 entries in the three gardening categories, namely: inter-barangay, inter-school and inter-homeowners associations.

The winning garden is one example of a sustainable gardening operation because they can grow vegetables year-round despite the unfriendly weather. Last year, the same garden won the same top prize. But there is a very pronounced improvement this year. The plants are well organized and they are growing very well despite the harsh summer weather.

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
This is the prize-winning garden of the Federation of Homeowners of BF International Village/CAA under the category of inter-homeowners gardening competition.

Four workers who don’t receive regular salaries work on the garden. These include Ofelia Roxas who supervises planting, Emily Florentino who does the selling and also in taking care of the plants, Nobel Brunto who enrolled in the gardening course in the farm school of Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Luisito Badol, the only male staff who takes care of the heavy jobs.

As their source of income, they sell what they produce and keep more of the income for themselves. They just give a small share for the operation of the garden. Sometimes, Mrs. Aguilar may also give them additional cash that she gets from her P19,000 honorarium as barangay chairman.

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
Brgy. Chairman Jojo Reyes of Phase 3 West Talon 2 and his very healthy saluyot.

Among the saleable harvests is pechay which sells at P35 per kilo at the time of our judging. Other crops include lettuce, mustard, eggplant, okra and other favorites. They bring their harvest to the market as well as peddle them in a tricycle around the subdivisions.

We saw some ingenious techniques in their garden. For instance, they use soda bottles as borders of their plots. They look so neat and practical. They have also crafted artificial flowers that are painted in bold colors which they place at the open end of the greenhouse. They claim that the artificial flowers deter the birds from entering the greenhouse.

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
The artificial flowers crafted out of recycled plastic bottles are supposed to scare the birds from entering the greenhouse where they can do damage.

The garden which used to be a garbage dump was transformed into a level piece of property which they enriched with organic materials, including the organic fertilizer produced by the Villar Sipag Foundation out of household wastes from the city’s households.

HOMEOWNERS’ GARDEN – The garden of the Federation of Homeowners of BF International Village/CAA is an enviable garden where healthy organic okra are so fruitful. The other crops of upland kangkong are so lush and so with the other vegetables that are grown in the ground as well as in containers. This one won the top prize in the inter-homeowners’ garden category.

LAS PIÑAS GARDENERS: Winners Defy El Niño Phenomenon
JOJO REYES’ SPECIAL SALUYOT – We were really impressed by the lush growth of saluyot that Jojo Reyes planted in the garden of the homeowners of Phase 3West Talon 2, last year’s top winner. The saluyot which is also a favorite of many residents in Las Piñas is grown with organic fertilizer. The garden has its own vermicomposting facility.
Other crops that Jojo has planted include ampalaya, cucumber, different varieties of lettuce, okra, leafy greens and others He has also a couple of dwarf papayas that are heavily laden with fruits.

MEDICINAL HERBS – We were also impressed by Brgy. Talon 4’s garden which specializes in medicinal herbs. It is something needed in the community. And we observed that the partial shade of leaves and bamboo slats above the plants kept the plants from getting sunburned.

Well and good. What we can say is that some of the contestants have shown creative means of defying the harsh summer months this year in Las Piñas.

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