‘Gulayan sa Parokya’ feeds indigent faithful

GENEROUS YIELD. Fr. Rex Ramos displays his harvest from the “Gulayan sa Parokya” in Bula, Camarines Sur.

BULA, Camarines Sur --- Standing in front of the altar while delivering sermons highlights Fr. Rex Ramos' day as a parish priest of St. Vincent Ferrer in Ombao Polpog, Bula, Camarines Sur. Until he began his vegetable garden in a small lot beside the church. Today, his "gulayan sa parokya" occupies most of his time outside, which aims to lessen food expenses of his indigent parishioners.

"We made use of the vacant lot beside the church so that we have food every day, so that we will not buy any more. We planted pechay, tomatoes, turnip, eggplant, okra. Everything (vegetables) in Bahay Kubo, it's there," Fr. Rex said.

After several harvests, his “Gulayan sa Parokya” served as a constant source of food for his parishioners. Because of its success, the priest thought of expanding it to produce more vegetables to help more residents. The bigger garden was realized with the help of his “sacristans.”

However, he learned, the land he chose to use was a vast rice field, prone to flood and not suitable for growing vegetables. The priest did not lose hope and searched for solutions. He built an arc and used recycled vehicle tires. "Tires are good because you will fill them with soil, they won't erode when it rains," he added.

Fr. Rex shared that his secrets in producing quality vegetables include using organic fertilizer from cow manure and a plenty of tending loving care. "Sometimes I talk to them, ask them to bear more vegetables so that more people will benefit," he said.

Residents got attracted to the big vegetable arc. Many were amazed and were encouraged to try building the same in their own lots, too. Most importantly, the “Gulayan sa Parokya” helped the community covered by the parish survive the Covid-19 crisis.

"Fr. Rex would ask me to harvest. I would go but other residents sometimes hesitate, so I would pick up the vegetables for them," Carmelina Habana, a parishioner said.

The priest hopes the vegetable garden would serve as an inspiration---a perfect example that even a small community can beat Covid-19 crisis with everyone's cooperation.