A toast to saniata aka dragon fruit

It’s been more than a year since I visited Manang Edita Dacuycuy of REFMAD Farms in Brgy. Paayas, Burgos. Manang Edita is the original Ilocano grower of this wonder fruit called saniata in Ilocos, more popularly known worldwide as dragon fruit. A befitting name for the fruit, saniata is Ilocano for blooming, progressive and promising. Manang Edita, who heads the group of 54 dragon fruit growers all over Ilocos Norte, has big dreams of making the province the dragon fruit capital of the Philippines. Why not?

The 5-hectare farm looks a lot different from the last time I went with Martine and Ericke. Spacing visits longer makes it more thrilling.

(Read my first news feature about REFMAD Farms and the King of Fruits posted last year via the LEAD Movement blog)

Alexa seems too excited for this agri-tour. It’s her first time at REFMAD Farms. I was excited, as well.

The hubby had to try it, too. He doesn’t actually like fruits.

Saniata ti Kailokuan, my kind of fruit! Loaded with antioxidants.
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saniata aka dragon fruitI had this chilled for a while before grabbing my first wedge. ’twas just so refreshing!

100 % of the farm’s workforce is from the community.

The tilapia pond is new.

More and more locals and tourists are discovering this organic farm. Carlson Chan of Liwayway Foods, makers of Oishi, and DepED Assistant Secretary Jun Abelita were recent REFMAD guests.

Dragon fruit cactus is known to aid several illnesses. You might want to check this out (here)

Saniata flower glows in the evening.

REFMAD Farms dragon fruit farm

A garden lounge for picnickers.

Farm ducks. I guess they’re meant for integrated farming. I forgot to ask, though.

I wanted one for my sandboarding activities. A cool sun shield

That’s our organic farmer/innovative entrepreneur Mrs. Edita Aguinaldo Dacuycuy.

REFMAD Farms dragon fruit bi-products

Nothing is wasted. Dried dragon fruit flowers are made into lumpia, empanadita, dumplings and burger patties and served at the café. They also have farm-baked cupcakes and cookies… and surprise, ice cream!

Brewed tea made of dried dragon fruit flowers

Dragon fruit bread sticks.

Dragon fruit ice cream. Brandon liked it much.

I had two shots of this dragon fruit wine, which I ended up bringing home.

For the vain, anti-aging soap that whitens the skin, also made from dragon fruit.

Ain’t that sweet?

“I hope I have enough money.”

Saniata weighing half a kilo.


My loot basket

Goin’ back to home.

Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Manong Nestor Acosta, Ilocano organic farming advocate

Old-style farming is considered to be modern again. The growing environmental concern in relation to unnatural farming practices such as genetic modification and the use of artificial chemicals has led many farmers worldwide to revert to quaint agricultural practices.

54-year old Nestor Acosta, a native of the town of Bacarra and a farmer for 34 years now, has gone back to the basics in regard to his farming methods. The year 2000 was a turning point in his life as a farmer. The words of a certain public servant — “Agpaili koma ti saba, ngem tattan isumetten itti agpaaway. Awan kadin itti daga itti away? (Bananas should be sent to the city, but now they are sent to the countryside. Are there no more lands in the countryside?)” — were like thunder to him. He took the public servant’s words as a challenge. He worked up a plan, leased additional pieces of land, and went back to natural farming techniques.

He uses only chicken manure  fertilizer in his 10-hectare veritable organic vegetable and fruit farm. Through integrated farming, he is able to yield more high quality, better tasting gourd, bittermelon, papaya and long green beans which he and his family sell at their vegetable stall in the Bacarra public market. To date, he has 230 cinta and red lady papaya trees. His younger guapple trees are nearing maturity.

Manong Nestor has earned several awards for his outstanding efforts in sustainable agriculture. Four years in a row, from 1990-1993, he was awarded an Outstanding Farmer in Region I. He is also a Gawad Saka awardee for converting a wasteland into a year-round green integrated farm. In 2008, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Foresty, and Natural Resources Research and Development – Department of Science and Technology (PCARRD-DOST) sent him to Korea for a study-visit. “I learned much from that visit. It was an exchange of organic farming ideas between the Philippines, which I represented, and Korea,” he said.

I asked him what are the usual problems he encounters and he said, “So far, none.” He humbly adds, “It is good business for the family.”

Young red lady papaya fruits

Quality sitaw or long green beans

Balayang banana tree. Balayang banana heart is excellent for Filipino kare-kare dish.

Gourd (also known as patola or kabatiti) and ampalaya leaves are Ilocano favorites

“The whole town of  Bacarra, as well as the entire nation, should adopt organic  farming practices for better health and longer life,” Manong Nestor said when I asked him what he wanted to tell his fellow Ilocano farmers.

Nestor Acosta, Brgy. 40 Buyon, Bacarra, Ilocos Norte, Philippines  63-926-6157764
Photos by Blauearth Copyright © Blauearth™ ALL RIGHTS RESERVED