Gardening contest inspires a community to grow food amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Gardening contest inspires a community to grow food amid the COVID-19 pandemic

16 Jul, 2020

Launched last 28 April 2020, the gardening contest that spanned more than 55 days has finally come to a close and announced big winners, inspiring garden farms, and hardworking farmers and gardening enthusiasts.

COVID-19 and the local community quarantine in Marinduque resulted to a majority of Marinduqueños to spend most of their time inside their homes. The pandemic gave birth to a gardening contest that aimed to challenge locals to go organic and grow their own food in their respective homes. Called the “Boac Community Food Garden Contest”, it is a competition for Marinduque-based farmers and gardening enthusiasts to showcase their gardening skills, sense of community, and their ability to grow their own food healthily and sustainably.

Within a few days, twenty contestants were officially welcomed into the competition.

“We are inspired everyday knowing that our farming communities are enthusiastic in producing their own food,” said Cherrie Atilano, AGREA’s Founding Farmer, President and CEO.

“This contest is an integrated holistic food-based approach of AGREA enables local farmers to grow nutritional food using responsible agricultural practices allowing them not to only feed their families but also to earn income by selling their produce,” she adds.

Free Farming Starter Packs

All of the participants received farming starter packs courtesy of our sponsors and partners. This enabled the contestants to efficiently start their food garden.

Each starter pack contained seeds (pechay, mustasa, sitaw, Baguio beans, corn, ampalaya, okra, hot chili, arugula, spinach, and eggplant), and concoctions and vermicast fertilizer.

In a span of 55 days, the contestants and their gardens were also regularly visited by farming experts and agriculturists in order to monitor their progress and to provide free gardening consultation. The organizers consider many factors such as harvesting of previous crops already planted in the plots, land preparation and plot planning, seed germination, crop care and maintenance, and Typhoon AmboPH among others.

The Boac Community Food Garden Contest is a competition for Marinduque-based farmers and gardening enthusiasts to showcase their food gardening skills, sense of community, and their ability to grow their own food healthily and sustainably. Photo taken from 'Halamanan ni Tatay Inan', one of the contest finalists.

Meet the finalists

All of our ten finalists succeeded expectations in garden design, crop care & maintenance, and sustainability activities in their gardens based on pre-finals screening. Final judging took place last Monday, 6 July 2020.

  1. Jose Dexter Menorca, “Team Backyard Gardeners”, Brgy Balimbing
  2. Nelia Requina Seño, “Lovely’s Garden Farm”, Brgy Cawit
  3. Laiza Oracion Limpiada, “The Rogelio’s Gardeners”, Brgy Balogo
  4. John Kenneth Landig, “Keana’s Garden”, Brgy Poras
  5. Ryan Christopher Labog, “Labog Integrated Farm”, Brgy Poras
  6. Dennis Motol, “Team Bukid Rosalina”, Brgy Caganhao
  7. John Oliver Hermosa, “D.U.G. D Upcycle Garden”, Brgy Laylay
  8. Thessie P. Oracion, “Oracion Gardener”, Brgy Bangbangalon
  9. Crezaidee M. Patetico, “Mazon Farm”, Brgy Balogo
  10. Lessiedhel Morillo, “Halamanan ni Tatay Inan”, Brgy Caganhao

Judges and criteria for judging

The contest’s distinguished panel of judges and gardening technical experts are Bishop Antonio Maralit of Boac Diocese (represented by Fr Pido Magcamit), TESDA Marinduque Provincial Director Allen de Jesus (represented by Mr Erwin Buñag), and AGREA resident agriculturists Mr Jonathan Quinto, Ms Jaybelle Revilloza, and Ms Estella Gutierrez. Participating gardens will be graded based on the following criteria:

  • Farm Design (20%),
  • Crop Care (30%),
  • Maintenance (20%),
  • Sustainability (20%), and
  • Social Media Presence (10%).

Winning gardeners and their gardens

The winning gardens and their respective farmer/gardeners win the following: First Place - P8,000, Second Place - P5,000, and Third Place - P3,000. Each of the ten finalists are also entitled to a 50Kg sack of Sinandomeng rice courtesy of Bishop Maralit of the Diocese of Boac.

As an additional bonus, the barangay of the winning contestant is entitled to 25 slots of full agriculture training scholarship sponsored by TESDA Marinduque and administered by the AGREA Farm School.

THIRD PRIZE: Ryan Christopher Labog and his “Labog Integrated Farm” from Barangay Poras showcases a combination of well-tilled raised beds, impressive garden design, and an integrated working family farm with tomatoes, high value crops, lettuce, tilapia, and vegetables. Hats off to this contestant as they continue to be a huge inspiration to their barangay and community.

SECOND PRIZE: Nelia Requina Seño's "Lovely's Garden Farm" is a working organic farm in Barangay Cawit, Boac and features ingenious raised bed, teepee-inspired trellis designs made of indigenous materials, and high value crops such as lettuce, 'Bahay Kubo' vegetables, corn, chicken, hogs, and ornamental plants.

BIG WINNER: Laiza Oracion Limpiada and "The Rogelio's Gardeners" is an organic garden farm located in Balogo Boac and delighted judges with its impressive array of well-planned raised beds, implements, and beautiful planters specific for every plant variety featured in the garden. The garden has the qualities of an agritourism farm site and inspires a feeling of family, community, environmental protection, and sustainable development, and healthy living.

Mini competitions within the contest

Aside from the search for the best gardens, our ten finalists also showcased their cooking skills in the Best Home Garden Recipe mini-contest during the judging last 6 July 2020.

“We hope this mini cooking contest inspires everyone to consume healthy produce grown locally in our own home gardens,” said Rafael Seño, AGREA Communications Director and Training Director of the AGREA Farm School.

Other mini challenges offered to the contestants include Best Independence Day Photo Mini Contest, Biggest Green Leafy, Best Food Garden Photo, Best Raised Beds and Implements, and Garden Story Writing Contest. Seed packs and organic gardening kits were given as prizes.

A gardening contest that inspires a community

In a Facebook post, Bishop Marcelino Antonio Maralit of the Diocese of Boac shared “Congratulations to the winners and all the participants, for being the best examples that it is possible and viable!”

“Congratulations to the organizers for jumpstarting this wonderful project with a clear vision of what can be, if we all put our minds and our efforts into it!Congratulations to Marinduque, because this opens the gates to our island as a haven for sustainable organic farming!”he adds.

In another Facebook post, Blair Dimaano of Tulong Marinduque said, “Maraming salamat po sa dalawampung kalahok na nagtiyaga sa kabila ng hirap dahil sa pandemya, init, lakas ng ulan, at bagyo. Naging inspirasyon kayong lahat sa amin at higit sa lahat ay pinatunayan ninyo na sa maraming pagkakataon at payak na pamamaraan ay pwedeng makatulong sa ating pamilya, mga kaibigan at pamayanan. Patuloy niyong pagyamanin ang mga aral na natutuhan at kakayahan sa pagtatanim.”

The Boac Community Food Garden Contest is powered by AGREA, Tulong Marinduque, Goodyear General Merchandise, Goodchow Food Express, The Diocese of Boac, and TESDA Provincial Office Marinduque.