For my loyal readers, you might have remembered my haciendero get-up and pose from my previous blog about Fresh Start Organic Farm. My Fresh Start Organic experience is an eye opener and certainly, I fell in love with organic products and organic farming. Before its acclaim as the Organic Food Bowl of Asia, the trek to organic farming in Negros Island has been a slow and sometime painful one. The movement started in 1990’s and has been focused in small groups of entrepreneurs that had several exhibits in Bacólod City, the island’s most major city and financial center. The initiative picked up steam however in 2005 when the Provincial Governments of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental signed a memorandum setting up the goal for Negros Island to be the Organic Food Bowl of Asia. From the painful experience of both provinces at the fall of the sugar economy, enterprising Negrénses made use of the idle lands to start-up what is now a successful organic movement. The following year, the two Provincial Governments held the first Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival in Bacólod City.
The Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival is the longest running organic festival of its kind in the country. Since 2006, the festival has consistently showcased organic produce that has a distinctive mark of quality being grown in the rich soil of Negros Island. Following its inception half a decade ago, it has helped the two Negros Provinces in their goal of solidifying the claim of the Island as the Organic Food Bowl of Asia. Their efforts do not go unnoticed as tourists from other provinces and even overseas stream into the festival venues to learn, purchase and even present prospects for larger exports. The gathering is a rare one and is able to present or showcase the products of both small farmers and big-time entrepreneurs alike. Success of the event every year is contributed to the cooperation between these two market players.
This year’s festivites will be centered on the lot that has been the center of land battle between Ayala Land and SM Development Corporation. None of those battle of the mall giants for now because it will be the feature ground for the best of organic farmers in the Island. Long before the heated up land battle between the mall giants, this has been the site of Organic na Negros! Market and has been selling organic produce from small farmers. This is the site of the first festivities too and will be again on December 16-20, 2011. Just a stone’s throw from the magnificent Provincial Capitol of Occidental Negros in Gatuslao Street, Bacólod City, this year’d festival will showcase 100 exhibitors nationwide. The five-day activity will feature the ff:
- Organic Cookfest, a cooking demonstration of special menus made from organic produce by celebrity chefs, well-known restaurateurs and participants from selected culinary schools.
- Fora on the latest updates in organic agriculture by internationally known experts on organic food production
- Song-writing Contest
- Quiz Bees
- Night concerts with live bands
- Exhibits of organic, healthy, local and vegetarian food
- Eco-friendly products and technology
- Agri-tourism health and wellness fair
While the exhibitors will have their space in the Organic na Negros! Market, event booths will be set up in South Capitol Road fronting Negros Forest Compound and the Commission of Audit. Symposiums will be held at the Social Hall of the Provincial Capitol. The activity is in line with Gov. Alfredo Marañon’s food security program “Food for Peace”. Organic Festivities are organized under the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Negros Island Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (NISARD) Foundation and the Organic na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (ONOPRA).