food businesses

Support local farmers! For P699, stuff a box with as many fruits, veggies as you can

Steph Arnaldo
Support local farmers! For P699, stuff a box with as many fruits, veggies as you can

LOCAL PRODUCE. Rural Rising and Ayala Malls have partnered for the Box-All-You-Can initiative.

Photos by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

(2nd UPDATE) Social enterprise Rural Rising's Box-All-You-Can community market is going around select Ayala Malls on certain weekends!

MANILA, Philippines (2ND UPDATE) – If there’s a sector that badly needs our support, it’s the agricultural sector – specifically, our local, hardworking farmers. And if there’s one thing our bodies need now more than ever, it’s the healthy power of fruits and vegetables. So, why pass up on the opportunity to take home locally-sourced produce direct from our farmers at an affordable price?

Thankfully, local non-profit organization Rural Rising (RuRi) and Ayala Malls are working together to help bridge the gap between urban customers and farmers around the country, fostering “rural prosperity” by bringing the best of our countrysides straight to the city through agri-entrepreneurship. How best can we support this noble initiative?

Well, RuRi launched the Box-All-You-Can event, happening in various Ayala Malls on certain weekends!

From Saturday to Sunday, June 25 to 26, RuRi is headed to Solenad, Nuvali to help out the highland farmers of the BABUTA (Bakun, Buguias, Tinoc and Atok) cluster. “Distressed farmers from these towns will provide the carrots, radishes, womboks, cabbages and tomatoes that we need,” RuRi said. Participants can register for the event online, and also pledge a box to a guard, janitor, or service crew member.

RuRi’s last Box-All-You-Can location and date was on June 12 at Market! Market. The local produce on that day included zucchini and radish from Benguet farmers; onions from Luzon; cauliflower from Ilocos; cabbage from Cagayan; as well as fresh beets, carrots, eggplant, corn, potato, pineapple, papaya, and more. On the same day, RuRi also held a Mango Eat-All-You-Can event at the same location.

On May 20 to May 22, RuRi was stationed at U.P. Town Center’s Activity Center along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. The weekend prior, RuRi was at Glorietta Mall, Makati City. The first ever BAYC event was held in the Activity Center of Alabang Town Center.

ACTIVITY CENTER. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler
Sulit! How Box-All-You-Can works

At every BAYC event, all you have to do is register (either online or as a walk-in guest) and pay P699 on the spot. Once you’ve paid, you’ll be given a 14″ x 14″ box that you can fill up to the brim with as many locally-produced fruits and vegetables as you can, which you handpick yourself from the various stalls around.

UPTC. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

You only have ten minutes to do so, but the activity is really fun – arranging your box strategically to make more space is exciting, and seeing how much you can fit in a limited time is very satisfying (you can fit up to 10-15 kilos)! Plus, knowing that your purchase has helped the livelihood of many farmers is the best part.

EMPTY BOX. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Each fruit and veggie stall comes with a label of which local community you’re helping out – the provinces range from Quezon, to Benguet, La Union, Nueva Vizcaya, Ilocos Sur, and more. You’re assured fresh, newly-picked, organic and quality produce at farm gate prices.

FARMERS. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

All proceeds from each batch are given directly to local farmers and agri-entrepreneurs.

Photo courtesy of Rural Rising

On Friday, the stalls were offering a variety of common household produce and in-season fruits, like saba, Indian and yellow mangoes, yellow watermelon, pineapple, huge cauliflowers, Baguio beans, sayote, eggplant, carrots, cucumbers, okra, ampalaya, zucchini, potatoes, and more.

Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Once the ten minutes are up, you will be escorted to the exit area while a RuRi representative checks your box to see if it’s appropriately packed until the brim.

TO THE BRIM. Photo by Steph Arnaldo/Rappler

Another great initiative by RuRi and Ayala Malls is the Share-A-Box component, where customers can pledge the same amount of P699 so a front liner, health worker, Grab rider, jeepney driver, or service worker can avail of the same opportunity, free of charge.

The rise of Rural Rising

The social enterprise was founded at the start of the lockdown by husband-and-wife team Ace and Andie Estrada, who were behind the viral Facebook posts of an oversupply of kamatis being thrown and sold at the side of the road.

Photo courtesy of Rural Rising

Seeing how the travel restrictions of the 2020 lockdown caused an oversupply of produce from farmers but an undersupply for NCR customers, Ace and Andie took it upon themselves to go directly to various barrios around the country. They bought the excess produce directly from farmers who didn’t know what to do with rotting fruits of their labor as they also struggled to adjust to skyrocketing costs of transportation and gasoline.

Photo courtesy of Rural Rising

After the haul, Ace and Andie transported all the goods themselves back to Manila, and began Rural Rising, an online and physical shop where Metro Manila customers could purchase these goods from different hubs around the city. Most of the time, the farmers themselves are also there to help sell their produce.

Photo courtesy of Rural Rising

For Ace And Andie, RuRi’s success is hinged on being the avenue to empower our micro agri-businesses to find their voices and remember that their hard work, dedication, and skill matter.

Photo courtesy of Rural Rising

The community market is a win-win for everyone, actually – both customers and farmers get to benefit, and our local agricultural sector is given the rightful opportunity to thrive once again. – Rappler.com

Stay tuned for more updates on where Box-All-You-Can is heading next by following Rural Rising and Ayala Malls’ Facebook pages.

Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.