The network of Earth Markets continues to expand, now numbering 90 worldwide – and the latest farmers’ market which follows Slow Food principles will be inaugurated in Silay City Negros Occidental, on May 27.
The Earth Markets project aims to give people access to short supply chain products which are local, seasonal and made with respect for the environment and workers’ rights.
The Negros Island Slow Food Earth Market is situated along the highway in Silay City, Negros Occidental, at Casa A. Gamboa, 5 Rizal St., Brgy. 5. It will be held every last Saturday of the month.
The idea to create an Earth Market in Negros Island surfaced in March 2021, when a pop-up Earth Market was held at Casa A. Gamboa, and the Negros Island Earth Market was the initiative of the Slow Food Community Promoting and Preserving Traditional Food of Negros Island.
Rep. Francisco Benitez of the third district of Negros Occidental and the local office of the Department of Agriculture visited the market and was impressed. Many farmers were delighted at being able to access the market and find new customers for their products, and so the idea was to make this initiative stable and regular. Since its inception, the development process has been coordinated in collaboration with Silay City, the office of the Provincial Governor, and the Provincial Tourism office,Department of Agriculture,and the Department of Tourism Region 6.
“Promoting and preserving our traditional food is of the utmost importance if we are to cultivate and continue Filipino culture to our future generations. We believe that the best way to do this is to talk to our main protagonists – the small farmers,” says Reena Gamboa, a spokesperson for the Slow Food Community of Negros. “It’s through them that we can all learn what is endemic to our community, and the Earth Market will allow the community to deal straight with the farmers and to pay them the fair price they’re due. By doing so, we valorize our local food sources and appreciate its importance – not only for our physical health but also for our Filipino soul.”
The Slow Food Community has been active in mapping food sources or ingredients and dishes in District 3, of which Silay is a part. It will continue its advocacy work to raise awareness about the fragile gastronomic heritage of the island to protect and sustain it, and it will offer farmers a platform to explain how they grow and prepare their products (many of which from the local Ark of Taste). Other activities, such as taste workshops, will attract people to taste the local cuisine.
Expected clients are housewives, government officials, restaurant owners, chefs and supporters, most of whom come from the neighboring towns of Bago, Bacolod, Talisay, Silay, EB Magalona and Victorias.
The market will feature 28 producers to begin with, who will be selling their locally produced, traditional products – including fruits and vegetables, mushrooms, eggs, dairy, honey, rice, coconut oil, vinegar and coffee – directly to consumers. Plastics will not be allowed as packaging for vegetables and other food items.
Silay City is located in Negros Occidental and is known for its well-preserved old houses and wide variety of native delicacies. Its gastronomic delicacies are still homemade by families who continue to use recipes handed down from generation to generation. The most iconic dishes are lumpia, empanada, panara, pionono, piaya, lubid lubid, and butongbutong, and fresh seafood and vegetables are served in coastal restaurants. Silay covers an extensive and diverse territory, from the sea with its rich biodiversity to the mountainous area of the North Negros Natural Park. The latter is a protected area encompassing centuries-old forests, rich in flora and fauna.
The Negros Island Slow Food Earth Market is financed by Rep. Benitez.*