A Catholic parish in the Philippine capital has launched a competition for the “best village” that can produce an “edible Christmas tree.”
The contest, which was announced last week, will open on November 26 and is open to the 188 villages of the city of Caloocan in the outskirts of the capital Manila.
Father Eduardo Vasquez, parish priest of the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace in the Diocese of Kalookan, said participating villages will have one month to make a Christmas tree out of vegetables.
“They have to use at least three kinds of vegetables to make a seven-foot Christmas tree in 30 days,” said the priest. The village with the best tree will be chosen as winner.
The priest told LiCAS.news that the objective of the contest is to promote urban gardening as a response to Pope Francis’ call for concrete ecological actions.
Communities must use “live vegetable plants” and indigenous or recycled materials, such as empty plastic bottles and used clothing. to make the Christmas tree.
Father Vasquez reminded the public that the use of chemicals and fertilizers are strictly prohibited and that all plants on the Christmas tree must be edible.
“It means they can eat the vegetable after the judging period,” said the priest.
“So they must plan it properly. The vegetables must be matured enough to be harvested after the last day of the contest,” he said.
Father Vasquez’s parish made headlines in recent months after he converted the entire church compound into an urban gardening hub.
It was later declared as a diocesan center for “diversified urban gardening.”
Father Varquez said the contest also aims to make the celebration of Christmas “more meaningful in the time of pandemic.”
“A Christmas tree made up of vegetables in the context of urban gardening could serve as a symbol of abundance in these trying times,” he said.
“Second, we want to create a culture of urban gardening, not only here in the parish but in other urban places,” he said.
He said the activity also “promotes a culture of community because it is the entire village that will produce the Christmas tree, not just the leaders or some individuals.”
The winners will receive a cash prize amounting to US$2,000 for the first prize, US$1,000 for the second place, and US$400 to the third place.
The parish will also give a cash incentive to the “most-liked edible Christmas tree” on social media.