Negros Organic Farmers Festival
Here are some tips and reminders for buyers during the Negros Organic Farmers Festival.
Forgive me for saying this, but time really flies so fast. I remember helping out the Office of the Provincial Agriculture (OPA) and Fresh Start Organics in the marketing collateral for the 1st Organik Na Negros Festival 10 years ago.
Now, Negros Island is already one region (NIR) and I am so happy to see that many farmers and groups from our Oriental side have come to Bacolod to join in the festival. And yes, it is happening right now–the Negros Organic Farmers Festival, from November 25-29, 2015, at the Festival Grounds, North Capitol Road, Bacolod City.
More than 50 sellers composed of farmers, restaurant owners–all proponents of organic farming and healthy living–have converged in this single spot for the Negros Organic Farmers Festival. And they will all be there for five days to sell their products. I have to tell you that I always get a kick out of visiting the organic festival and yes I was there early this morning, even while the other exhibitors have not yet set up their booths. (hehe eggzoited much)
It is also this one time of the year that I feel the urge to splurge–yeah, for the thrifty person that I am, I am spending good money around among the participants because I want to encourage the farmers and the groups in my own little way to continue what they are doing.
You see, when the organic movement in Negros was started by the provincial government under the well-loved Gov. Joseph Marañon, many were half-hearted, many did not believe, and those few who responded to the call had a hard time maintaining their farm operations because it was hard to market organic produce.
But now, 10 years later, and now under Gov. Alfredo Marañon who continued the program, organic farming and marketing continues. Many more people are choosing to buy organic because of the awareness and the relentless pursuit of many practitioners of the organic lifestyle. The dream of making Negros Island the “Organic Food Bowl” of Asia is no longer far-fetched. It is happening.
So anyway, before I bore you with my heartfelt emotions on the organic festival, here some tips for you if you are going to seriously “attack” the organic festival and make “pakyaw” their goods.
Shopping Tips and Reminders
Here are some of things to consider when shopping at the Negros Organic Farmers Festival.
1. Best time to visit. The best time to visit the Negros Organic Farmers Festival displays would be around 10am. While you can visit them as early as 8am because the sun is not yet high up in the sky, some stalls are not yet ready by that time. But by 10am, the booths are all open and their stocks for the day have been delivered. You may also opt to stay for lunch and partake of the yummy offerings of the different food stalls. Some people may prefer to visit in the afternoon because it is not so hot anymore, but then most of the produce have already been sold out.
2. Look around first. You may want to finish looking around first before buying if you are not in a hurry. Many stalls have redundant displays so you really have the freedom to compare prices or see if the other seller has a much better stock or supply.
3. Bring your own bags. The sellers at the Negros Organic Farmers Festival only provide thin plastic bags that will easily tear while you roam around. If you don’t want to run after your tomatoes or dalanghita across the North Capitol Road, then I suggest you bring your own sturdy shopping bags or baskets. After all, this is a market. 😀
4. Don’t haggle too much. One of the objectives of the organic festival is to provide an avenue for fair trade for the farmers so that they, too, can earn decently from what they do. Some of the sellers are the farmers themselves or they let their group sell their produce for them. So while you may think that we are buying from the source, they also incurred expenses in bringing their stuff here to Bacolod City. Some may give a few pesos off your purchase, just be thankful for it. But please don’t insult them saying that you can get something cheaper in Libertad because the sellers and the farmers in Libertad do not undergo certification.
5. Buy several items from one seller. If you really want to get a good discount, buy different items from one seller where possible. In my case, I bought five different culinary herbs. Although I found one seller who sold two of what I needed at a cheaper price, she did not have everything that I needed.
When I went to the Bantug Ecofarm booth, they had all that I needed. Some were priced lower, some were higher than the last seller I checked on but since I bought several items, the vendor gave me a considerable discount. I think I may have gotten more than P50 off all the herbs I purchased.
6. Look out for items that you do not normally see in the wet market. There are unique products that you don’t normally get from the supermarket or the wet market. And you may get them on bargain here.
7. Check out the cooked foods. You may want to buy your day’s viands at the Negros Organic Farmers Festival. I got talaba (oysters), cabichuela (a goat dish), takoyaki, and potato patties there today for our lunch.