Negros Farmers Market boosts love for vegetables

A vegetable cooking contest was held to promote awareness and love for healthy cooking.

A vegetable cooking contest is held to promote awareness and love for healthy cooking.(Photo courtesy of Ronnie Baldonado)

BACOLOD CITY — The Negros Farmers Weekend Market at Magsaysay Avenue in this city marked its 10th anniversary with a vegetable cooking contest on Saturday, March 18.

The contest was held to encourage people in the community to take part in public events, promote awareness and love for healthy cooking, and of the need to eat more vegetables, said Ruby Cruz, the lead organizer of the weekend market 10 years ago.

Now her son, David Cruz, is helping out.

The 1.2 hectare weekend market that is open Saturdays and Sundays provides a venue for farmers to sell their fresh produce. It is a corporate social responsibility project of DC Cruz Trading Corp., of which David is a management trainee, she said.

Six participants joined the vegetable cooking contest and the judges were led by Chef Benedict John Co Uy.

Winning the first prize was Gina Mesias for her Ginataang Pakbet and vegan spring rolls.

Belen Saguirre won the second place for her “ratatoh” dish and in third place was Quenni Napatal for her cucumber roll with dressing and bokchoy in garlic sauce.

Cruz said the crowd size at the weekend market dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic and they are hoping that with the new normal, more customers would start returning.

“The pandemic brought a different form of competition with the shift to online buying,” she said.

“Under the new normal, it’s time to be a community again and reach out and interact with people,” she added.

The market will be open for free for events, including for artists to display their works, Cruz said.

She said they are also raising awareness about the different varieties of vegetables.

To further promote the love of vegetables, a vegetarian restaurant will open at the market’s dining area at the end of the month, she said.

“It will be open every day, except Saturdays since the owner is a Seventh-day Adventist member,” Cruz said.

Cruz’s son David said they planned to revive the dining area of the market into a vegetarian hub over the next six months.

He also plans to put at a bazaar at the market that would showcase Negros products.