Trailing the First Dragon Fruit Picking Festival in the North


The REFMAD Farms of the Dacuycuys will always have a special place in the heart of the author of BlauEarth. She has witnessed how the humble hut, surrounded by varying heights of dragon fruit posts, has been markedly reduced in prominence over the years. The baby of Ms. Edita Dacuycuy is now a lady, ever blooming and ripening.

From time to time, Ms. Edita is able to leave the farm to her daughter Mildred aka Mimie (her co-planner and gal Friday since day one) and travel and share the good news about how growing dragon fruit in Ilocos has helped not only her family, but other farmers and communities as well, besides the healthy benefits of this high value crop.

The well-loved farmer in Ilocos Norte has made a significant contribution to tourism — the bucolic yet contemporary destination continues to attract visitors from all walks of life.

First HutRedsqueen of the night

Mimie shares with us photos from one of the international exhibits and expositions REFMAD Farms has participated in. She carries the nation’s colors everywhere she goes. She’s met many wonderful people (like Chef Gaita Fores, in photo below) and learned significant global trends and techniques that she wishes to adopt and practice in the farm. “Her hands are full,” Mimie says when asked if her mom is ready to leave the nitty gritty to her.

dragonfruit with the flagexhibitMimie Dacuycuy

The brainchild of Mimie, the just concluded first Dragon Fruit Picking festival at the farm (the start of a yearly thing) was well-attended by friends and dragon fruit fans, and covered by both national and local media. I was actually the last picker at the 5-day festival. I liked it because I was able to sit down with her for the first time. It was always Tita Edita who taught me the things I needed to learn about dragon fruit.

The hardworking duo behind the successful REFMAD Farms wish they have more time for all the things they haven’t done yet. With a lot of TLC, quality soil and, yes, music (you have to go there to believe), they are able to harvest 10-12 times in 6 months. Their ice cream and vegan dragon fruit lumpia (that tastes like meat) are attractions in themselves. Their dragon fruit wine was featured at Sofitel. Their vinegar is also doing well.

Dragon Fruit TreesTriple FruitMimieDragon Fruit TreeBaby DragonsFruit BoxesDragon FruitMy fruitRipe for the picking: my fruit.dragon fruit ice creamdragon fruit lumpiaDragon Fruit WineIt’s sweet and fruity, but interestingly, it makes a very good cider when it  ages.Untitled

International exhibit photos courtesy of Mildred Dacuycuy
Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014

Saniata Parol

Dropped by the REFMAD Farms in Burgos a couple of days ago. I just loved the parol hanging on the cafe’s ceiling. Parol is traditionally a lantern made with papel de Hapon (Japanese paper) and cellophane glued over a star-shaped bamboo frame.  On Christmastime, more often than not, Filipino Catholic homes are decorated with parols and almost every town in the Philippines has a parol-making contest. Parol-making has evolved through the years. While others favor expensive intricate parols, some with complex lighting system, others still go for the more austere DIY parols. Parols made out of recycled or indigenous materials have also been showing up as of late.

The dragon fruit farm’s dragon fruit parol is simple, yet it attracts the eye. It’s my very first time to see a parol fashioned after a saniata (the new Ilocano term for the fruit, which means blooming and promising). Such a unique and creative translation, yet unmistakably Filipino.

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2011

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.

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