Discovering “The King of Fruits”

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The simpliest way to define TOURISM is traveling for pleasure. It can be broken down into several classifications like ecotourism, adventure tourism, sports tourism, voluntourism, shopping tourism, medical tourism, agritourism, rural tourism, gastronomic tourism, and so much more. One of the emerging global travel trends today is rural tourism which is interrelated with agri-tourism. More and more people, including children, want to find out where their food comes from. Farms would be the major place of interest for this kind of tourists. Getting to breathe clean unpolluted air while educating oneself is the pleasure that agritourism offers.

The farms that target agritourists, also known as agrotourists, emphasize the value of utilizing organic methods of growth — natural environment-friendly methods, like composting, instead of relying heavily on toxic pesticides and fertilizers.

REFMAD Farmsrefmad farms, the first dragon fruit farm in the Ilocos Region, is attracting not just agritourists, but tourists from all walks of life. It is because this exotic “king of fruits” is known to be loaded with beneficial nutrients which are readily metabolized in the body. It is high in Vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidant properties. It is  believed to help control glucose blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes and a form of type 1 diabetes, prevent colon cancer, and is proven to aid digestion.

Mrs. Edita Aguinaldo Dacuycuy, the vibrant and resourceful owner of the farm, discovered dragon fruit by accident. Someone gifted Edita with dragon fruit she brought home from a trip abroad.  Because of the acclaimed nutritional  benefits of this rare exotic fruit, her generous friend wanted Edita’s daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to try out this fruit believed to have medicinal properties. This led Edita to research for more information on the net. Later on, she noticed the  improvement on her daughter’s constipation problem which accompanies her cerebral palsy condition. This paved the way for the development of the refmad farms.

A new age farmer, Mrs. Edita Dacuycuy

A new age farmer, Mrs. Edita Dacuycuy

Today, the 2 and a half-year-old 5-hectare farm is one of the latest attractions of the province of Ilocos Norte. It is a welcome addition to the flourishing ecotourism and agritourism industry in the province. According to Edita, they are in the process of expansion. The challenge stems from the clamor of the local market and the influx of orders from several Binondo and Makati  fruit suppliers. She says, “We are challenged… we want the local market to have a continuous supply, and as of now, we are unable to provide  enough for the Ilocos demand.”

“Right now, our workforce is 100 percent from the community.” she says with pride. The farm is situated in Paayas, Burgos.  “My four children also help. I’m a hands-on manager,” she adds. She also talks about the other things she can do with the fruit.  “The skin pulps can be made as jam and cleansing drink, while the unopened flower buds can be added to dishes like chopsuey, lumpia shanghai and marrungay nga dinengdeng.” She also hints at  her company’s on-going product research and development.

The photoluminescent dragon fruit flower is also known as the "Queen of the Night", while the dragon fruit, or pitaya, is the "King of fruits"

The highlight of our visit to the refmad farms is the whole dragon fruit gastronomic experience. The red flesh has a texture similar to that of  kiwi fruit. It isn’t too sweet nor bland. It is refreshing like watermelon and strawberries. We’re definitely going back for more of this power-packed fruit. DETOXify!

Photography by Blauearth
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Learning from the Oidas: Working in harmony with nature

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A Mini Ecosystem

A Mini Ecosystem

surfers Mike and Alma Oida

surfers Mike and Alma Oida

Mike and Alma Oida of Kapuluan Vista Resort in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte are  synonymous with green. Their eco-design resort continues to attract the environment-conscious, the lovers of nature, healthy food, peace and tranquility. Now, they have managed to create their own organic garden. (Click to read related story)

On our recent visit to Kapuluan, we discovered great green gardening ideas that we need to share with you.

vermicomposting

vermicomposting

natural non-toxic fertilizers that don't smell or attract flies

worm castings, natural non-toxic fertilizers that don't smell or attract flies

cayenne pepper

cayenne pepper

swiss chard, also known as, silver beet or spinach beet

Swiss chard, also known as, silver beet or spinach beet

coriander

coriander

greenhouse gardening

greenhouse gardening

When we asked Mike what is the secret to raising healthy vegetables, he answered, “Basically, looking back where we left off… the classic style.” He and Alma grow sweet corn, cucumber, lettuce, spinach, chili, pepper, coriander and Swiss chard. Alma says, ” We are able to grow only for the restaurant, but that’s for now.” About the benefits of eating organically-grown veggies, Mike says, “It is believed to be more potent with nutritional values.” How does he deal with pests? “Gardening cooperatively with nature. Just leaving the pests alone.”

the green and delectable Hummus Burrito from Kapuluan's kitchen

the green and delectable Hummus Burrito from Kapuluan's kitchen

For the resort, we asked Mike what other eco-friendly practices  have they adopted lately — and he says, “EM, or effective microorganisms in organic waste management.” EM control odors, do all-purpose cleaning, reduce or replace all the cleaners, and recycle stuff like food leftovers, a good way to create a healthy environment. In gardening, EM cut on fertilizer costs, improve soil quality, soil health, and the growth, yield and quality of crops. These beneficial and effective microorganisms have many uses in other sustainable activities. “We’ve stopped using chemicals”, Mike added.

[photos by blauearth]

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Click to read related post about Mike and Alma Oida