Inspiring Pinoys

In Camarines Sur, Priest Grows a Vegetable Orchard for Community Church

Camarines Sur

Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | May 18, 2020

Story by Rizza Mostar

Standing in front of the altar while delivering sermons highlights Fr. Rex Ramos' day as a parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer in Ombao Polpog, Bula, Camarines Sur. Until he began his vegetable garden in a small lot beside the church. Today, his "gulayan sa parokya" occupies most of his time outside, aims to lessen food expenses.

[related: Urban Aquaculture Brings Opportunity Amidst COVID-19 Quarantine]"We made use of the vacant lot beside the church so that we have food every day, so that we will not buy any more. We planted pechay, tomatoes, turnip, eggplant, okra," Ramos said, "Everything in Bahay Kubo, it's there."

After several harvests, his Gulayan sa Parokya served as a constant source of food. Because of its success, Ramos thought of expanding it to the original project to produce more vegetables in a bigger garden to help more residents. The bigger garden was realized with the help of his sacristans.

[related: Mindanao Grows its First Successful Apple Tree, Thanks to a College Student]

However, he learned, the land he chose to use was a vast rice field, prone to flood and not suitable for growing vegetables. The priest did not lose hope and searched for solutions. He built an arc and used recycled vehicle tires. "Tires are good because you will fill them with soil, they won't erode when it rains," he added.

[related: In Nueva Ecija, the Spirit of Bayanihan Lives on in the Youth]

Ramos shares that his secrets in producing quality vegetables include using organic fertilizer from cow manure and tending loving care. "Sometimes I talk to them, ask them to bear more vegetables so that more people will benefit," he said.

Residents got attracted to the big vegetable arc. Many were amazed and were encouraged to try building the same in their own lots, too. Most importantly, the Gulayan sa Parokya helped the small community survive the COVID-19 crisis. "Father Rex would ask me to harvest. I would go but other residents sometimes hesitate, so I would pick up the vegetables for them," resident Carmelina Habana said.

Ramos hopes the vegetable garden would serve as an inspiration---a perfect example that even a small community can beat this pandemic crisis with everyone's cooperation.

ALSO READ: In Batanes, a Family Shares their Harvest with their Community

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