Farm to Table: The New Face of Farming
Meet the people who grew your dinner.
(page 3 of 5)
Both Eddie and Vicky, a former teacher, emphasize their family’s responsibility not just as farmers, but as educators and ambassadors for the food ways and plants of their culture. The Domingos have been featured on PBS and the Discovery Channel, talking about growing and using their specialty vegetables, many of which are popular throughout Asia but are relatively unknown in America—but national exposure doesn’t necessarily improve the bottom line.
Right now, things are tough for the farming side of D&E Farm and Produce. Until a few years ago, the Domingos owned their entire farm, but were forced to sell the majority of the land following a series of crop losses. Now they lease the same land from its new owners (which shaves profits razor-thin even in a good year) and wait for affordable agricultural land to open up in the planned Kunia agricultural park. Right now, Eddie Domingo is hoping for 10 acres, but he says the local and Mainland demand is such that he could fill almost any amount of acreage.
Domingo has big plans for his produce. He says he wants to “take these vegetables beyond the Filipino community” and hook into the surge of interest in local farming, introducing his products to a general market that’s primed to expand its vegetable vocabulary and shrink its food miles. His own concerns with encouraging local agriculture center around practicalities, like our vulnerability to the price of oil: “Remember last year, when gas cost almost as much as milk? Food prices went up, too. It could happen again, easily.”
For now, you’ll find him at the People’s Open Markets on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays, expertly splitting a wing bean for an interested customer or offering a host of preparation suggestions: “I really like getting the new people in, the ones who don’t already know how to cook these vegetables. I like introducing them to a new vegetable, teaching them how to use it.”
For Domingo, the farm isn’t just a source of income. Growing and sharing Southeast Asian produce helps keep his family’s connection to their former homeland strong. When you ask him why he wants to farm, he says simply, “We get to hold onto our culture.”
Chicken Soup with Moringa Leaves
A savory, warming soup with an antioxidant boost from the delicate new leaves of the horseradish tree, known across Eurasia as a healing plant (at the farmers’ market, ask for moringa or marunggay).
Brown a couple of pounds of chicken pieces. Add crushed ginger root, a chopped onion, and a tablespoon of patis (Filipino fish paste). Cover with water (about six cups) and simmer till chicken is tender. Toss in four cups of moringa leaves, cover and remove from heat.