Tucked in the highlands of Dolores, Quezon is a valley where the air is crisp, vegetables are organic and RASPBERRIES grow in abundance. You read that right! Mr. Dion Pullan have turned Bangkong Kahoy Valley into a Raspberry Plantation after he developed a way of cultivating local varieties of Wild Raspberries called Sampinit.
Philippine Wild Raspberries or Sampinit are known widely by locals as sweet-tart tasting red berries from a thorny type of weed that grows in the Mountains of Quezon. These wild berries are runners and are known to be invasive to other crops growing in the area. It was initially mistaken as wild strawberries because of their resemblance to the said fruit. However, further studies have confirmed that this was indeed a local variety of Raspberry.
Mr. Dion Pullan, an environmentalist and a balikbayan from Australia, saw the potential in this wild crop. He wanted to cultivate this plant in order to increase the production of Sampinit and come up with an iconic produce that is uniquely from Dolores, Quezon. After initially earning flaks from the locals for this unusual idea of growing the plant, he was able to successfully propagate Sampinit by planting stem cuttings of the wild plant in prepared soil plots. This became the start of Sampinit’s local production.
Today, Sampinit is now considered a high value crop in the area. Various products are made using the freshest Raspberries harvested from the farm. From Raspberry Jam and Jellies to Raspberry flavored Iced Teas, Vinaigrette Salad Dressing, pastries and sweets, the possibilities are endless for this ruby colored berry. All these products are now available as “Pasalubongs” in the Bangkong Kahoy’s version of the Honesty Store.
Curious visitors, who want to get a feel of harvesting these fruits, are welcome to go Raspberry Picking in the designated picking areas inside the farm. Just make sure to wear protective gloves as protection from being poked by the plant’s thorny stems.
Aside from Raspberry, Bangkong Kahoy is also known for their organic farming. They produce organic Sweet Potatoes, Cabbage, Radish, Sayote, Shiitake and high quality Oyster Mushrooms.
The Raspberry Farm of Bangkong Kahoy definitely shatters the notion that Raspberry is nothing but a foreign fruit available only as flavorings to desserts found in the supermarket. The “Berry” good news is that this plump and juicy Raspberries turned out to be truly and proudly Pinoy. So next time we crave for berries, think Sampinit of Dolores, Quezon.
Just like its raspberry counterpart in the Northern Hemisphere, Sampinit is a seasonal crop. The plants start budding fruits as early as December and peak in the month of March. Come April, the number of fruits begin to dwindle. However, the town’s local agriculture unit is researching for ways to make the plant bear fruits all year round.
How to get here
Bangkong Kahoy Valley is found in Barangay Kabuhayan , about 7 kilometers from Dolores Town Proper. Anyone who would like to experience picking Raspberries can take any Lucena bound buses at the Cubao or Buendia Terminal and get off at San Pablo City. From there, take a jeepney going to Dolores, Quezon and from Dolores town proper, ask the tricycle to be brought to Bangkong Kahoy Valley.