By Zac Sarian
The 3rd Urban Agri Trade Fair will be held from Sept. 17 to 18 at the Market! Market! Central Plaza in Taguig City. The event is being held to show to urbanites creative ways of growing plants and small animals for food even in limited space around the home.
The two-day event, free to the public, is a project of Agriculture Magazine and Manila Bulletin to showcase doable food production techniques that can be adopted by urban residents. It will be participated in by companies and private individuals who will showcase their products and services needed in urban farming and gardening.
Fresh vegetables and fruits as well as processed products will be available for sale to the visitors. Other items will include grow bags, growing media, seeds, ready-to-plant seedlings, planting materials of exotic fruit trees, organic fertilizers, garden tools, and many others.
There will be new ideas that can be picked up by visitors. Did you know, for instance, that you can grow salad greens right inside your home that can be harvested in just a couple of weeks? Yes, and that is by producing the so-called microgreens. These are sprouted vegetable seeds in plastic trays that are harvested as soon as their first two true leaves have emerged. These are very tender and nutritious. Seeds of lettuce, radish, pechay, mustard, and the like are sprouted in trays with sterile media to produce the microgreens.
The Urban Agri trade fair is also a means of inculcating in the minds of children as well as their parents the importance of agriculture. One innovative way of achieving this is the use of the vegetable growing kit developed by Ramgo, one of the companies producing and distributing improved seeds of vegetables and other high-value crops.
The kit consists of a biodegradable pot made of processed coconut husk, a packet of seeds, growing media, fertilizer, and a sheet of paper, which can be used by the child to note down his observations during the different growth stages of his plants.
AS HOBBY OR BUSINESS
Growing food plants in the urban setting can be undertaken as a personal hobby to grow plants for home consumption or it can also be undertaken as an honest-to-goodness money-making project. The plants can be grown organically so that they are clean and safe to eat. As such, they are in demand by the growing number of health-conscious consumers.
FRUIT TREES IN CONTAINER
Even fruit trees can be grown in containers that are big enough to hold a significant amount of growing media such as half-drums or the ready-to-use rubberized containers.
Example of trees that can be grown in containers are calamansi, lemon, pomelo, sweet orange, balimbing, imported makopa, chico, and many others.
There will be free lectures and consultations with the experts. For one, this columnist who is also a hands-on farmer can talk about growing fruit trees in containers. The vegetable experts will also share their know-how. So if you are really interested in urban gardening and farming, make sure to be there at the Market! Market Central Plaza from Sept. 17 to 18. There is no entrance fee.