WE felt lucky to see the last crops of the season at Quezon
Memorial Circle's organic vegetable garden. Ripe and ready for
harvest were eggplants, spinach, papayas, saluyot, okra, and
basil. The faster growing pechays and mustard were gathered
The vegetable garden is just one of many demonstration areas
at the ecology learning center launched recently by Quezon City
Parks Development Foundation Inc., which manages the
26-hectare park in Diliman, QC.
It is a component of the bio-intensive garden where visitors can
see organic vegetable gardens, tight-space garden planters,
vermi composting and waste composting, mushroom growing,
backyard fishpond, and medicinal-herbal garden.
''We want to show urban residents what they can do for food
security and green environment,'' said Charito Planas, president
of the foundation.
She is the think tank of ideas that keep the park bustling with
activities, while Dr. Lolita Amores is park administrator. There
are 51 employees who are trained to do all kinds of park
With Charito as guide, our first stop was the bio-intensive
garden. We noticed the dwarf papaya bearing fat fruits. Along
the wire fence climbed robust alugbati creepers.
What was interesting was the unique way the ubi root crops
were grown. These were planted on sacks filled with compost
and garden soil. At the center of the sack was a tall bamboo
pole that supports the climbing vine.
This proves that even apartment dwellers can grow ubi, or
camote. Charito introduced us to caretaker Mang Erning
Tagayon, gardener and park poet. He wrote the poem posted on
a tree trunk. It was about recycling waste.
''The first ubi we harvested was very big and heavy,'' Mang
Erning said, boasting further that they didn't use chemical
fertilizers at the vegetable garden, only composted garden waste
and vermi castings.
He explained how composting is done inside used tire cars or
deep trench in the garden. This is one solution to the lack of
disposal areas for organic waste from the kitchen and garden, he
From the organic vegetable garden, we moved to the recycling
and classified garbage segregation section. This is where
weekly demonstrations and lectures are held.
Launched last month on Earth Day, the free lectures are now
drawing more participants from subdivisions and neighborhood
''Our park employees design and assemble waste segregation
racks, as well as planters for small spaces,'' Charito disclosed.
Made out of iron rods, the racks can hold four thrash bags
perfect for sorting out garbage.
Designed for small spaces, the garden racks are made of steel
and fine mesh netbags for containing garden soil. It can hold
vegetables or ornamental plants.
Prices are P390 for horizontal garden rack, P750 for vertical rack,
P1,000 for waste rack with decomposter, P11,000 for outdoor
waste rack with roof, and indoor waste rack made of angular
steel at P850.
We passed the vermi-composting box on our way to the
mushroom house with a cook-out area for sterilizing the special
growing medium. The house is a closed shed with several
shelves to hold the bags of mushroom bags.
The potting medium is a combination of sawdust, bran or darak,
sugar, and lime. These are cooked to kill harmful microorganisms
that can spoil the mushroom spores.
''We should be able to sell mushrooms next month,'' Charito said
as he disclosed other activities for next month. It includes plans
to buy recyclable items, too.
Tentative price list include the following: P17 per kilo of
aluminium cans; P1.50 for scrap cartons; P0.50 for paper; plastic
water container at P2 a kilo; container at P4; cups at P2.50; soft
bags at P3.
The medicinal and herbal gardens are being improved to
increase the collection and make potted plants available to the
buying public. For those who are interested in herbal medicine,
Charito has a list called ''botika sa paso.'' It specifies indications
for dispensing herbals to specific ailments.
Cough and cold remedies, for example, include eucalyptus,
kamias, lagundi, oregano, bungang tsina and sambong. Most
of the listed herbals are growing in the park garden.
Quezon Memorial Circle is evidently bustling with major
activities that start from 5:30-10 p.m when park gates close.
As early as 5:30 a.m. joggers use the park, but our biggest
crowd drawers are the disco nights. According to Ms Amores,
''thousands of residents in Quezon City attend the weekly disco
The centers of activities are divided into pay and free areas.
''We charge minimum rates for certain activities to generate
funds for park maintenance and salaries,'' Charito explained.
These include skating, basketball, bicycle rental, horseback
riding, therapeutic massage, art-in-the-park, and disco dancing
on Friday evenings.
In the free list are areas for aerobics, playgrounds, picnic,
bicycle lane, ecology areas, gardens, chess, meditation corner,
physical therapy clinic and remote control car track.
''We want to provide a wholesome park where everybody can
go for sports, relaxation and learning.'' As Charito was saying
this, she blew on her whistle to call the attention of someone
who sat on the picnic table and stepped on the bench.
''Ang mesa ay para kainan, hindi upuan. Ang silya ay para
upuan, hindi tapakan,'' she reprimanded the man.
Her whistle necklace is a permanent fixture on Charito Planas's
park attire. ''It's for discipline and order,'' she said. The park is
not without its share of violators and hecklers. Nobody is
spared from her whistle.
''Oh, I meet hecklers who call me names like 'talo ka naman sa
election', but there are educated ones who apologize when
caught violating park rules.''
For more information on park activities, call administrator Lolita
Amores or Charito Planas at 924-3395 and 924-3412. Or take a
walk around the park. There are no gate charges for walk-ins.
But motorists have to pay, for park maintenance, of course.
Rates are P15 for car, P30 for vans or coasters, and P100 for