Market! Market!'s 'Secret Garden'

More than sales and bargains, BGC’s busiest mall is great at producing one other thing: vegetables

February 23, 2017 by E.K. Dela Cruz

Having a profitable business is always good.

But one that also has a heart? Even better.

For many companies and businesses, success is not only measured by what you gain, but also what you give back. This is known as the Triple Bottom Line framework of sustainability, which measures a company’s 1.) Economic value, 2.) Social responsibility, and 3.) Environmental impact.

For its part, Market! Market! in Bonifacio Global City fulfills this by going green.

Tucked in the mall’s rooftop and hidden from prying eyes is a sprawling roof garden which houses vegetables like pechay, mustasa, and herbal plants. A surprising slice of green, nestled in gray concrete and glass.

“We started this in 2009. Back then, it was only a 100 sq. m garden that was solely for aesthetic purposes,” says Robert Gonzalvo, property manager of Market! Market! and overseer of the mall’s rooftop garden. Having his own farm in Quezon, Robert brings both experience and a natural green thumb into the role.

Now, eight years after that first blossom, the roof garden has grown to over 300 sq. m of bountiful harvest and thick greenery.

The crops are tended to by the landscape personnel of the mall.

What’s notable is that the materials used in putting up the garden came from mall scraps: paver bricks from the parking and used tarpaulin make up the enclosure. Vegetable peelings from the mall’s Material Recovery Facility create a bed of compost. A small water-tank collects rainwater that seeps into the soil.

A raincatcher tank waters the crops.

“In fact, the only thing not recycled are the seeds,” explains Robert.

Accessing the ‘Secret Garden’

If there is a veritable “garden of Eden” at the top of Taguig’s most popular mall, why hasn’t anyone heard of it?

“People actually know about it and we advertise it, too,” says Robert. “But getting to the area is a bit tricky. You have to tell the concierge to give you access to the garden.”

“It’s a safety issue.”

Upon getting the go-ahead, one needs to go to the 4th floor Food Court area, traverse a series of corridors, and walk through a mechanical door to finally reach the garden. What lies beyond are rows of lettuce, mustasa, bok choy, and other crops ripe for harvest.

Bok Choy

These bounties enable Market! Market! to impact not only the environment, but also communities in need. All harvest are donated to the House of Somang (Home for the Elderly) in Parañaque.

“Every season yields about 5-8 crates of assorted vegetables,” says Robert. “We give this for free to our beneficiaries.” Meanwhile, some leftover crops are also sold to employees at a discounted price.

Madami masyadong harvest [The harvest is plentiful]. That is why we’re also looking to add one other beneficiary for this year.”

Robert Gonzalvo, property manager of Market! Market! and overseer of the garden. Gonzalvo is a shoe-in for the role, having his own farm in Quezon. (Photo by Corazon Ybanez)

Although it is not a new concept (organic gardens have been rolled out to other Ayala malls), what’s unique is that Market! Market! found a way to be sustainable through a simple and practical innovation. The garden naturally absorbs the heat and blocks it from the building, thereby lessening air conditioning load, electricity consumption, and day-to-day operating expenses by a significant margin.

By adding a garden and tending to it, they were able to hit all three bottom lines and show what it means to be a business with a heart.

Indeed, good intent grows wherever it is planted. Even in harsh concrete, atop one of the busiest malls in the metro.

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