This Bountiful Vegetable Garden Thrives in the Center of BGC
In the center of the metropolis that is Bonifacio Global City lies a slice of earth upon which has grown a bountiful vegetable garden.
It’s charmingly called the Potager Garden (pronounced po-ta-je), a word derived from the French word “for the soup pot,” referring to herbs and vegetables grown in the home garden for use in the kitchen.
The first French potager gardens were set in monasteries, plots of earth where monks could relax and meditate, creating spaces that were not only ornamental, but productive as well.
The Potager garden at Arya Residences was dreamt up by Connie Yuchengco González, wife of Arthaland president Jaime González.
One day, while relaxing on the rooftop of her city residence above the hustle and bustle below, Connie noticed the unused open space between Arya’s two towers. She realized it could be turned into vegetable plots similar to what she had on her farm in Tagaytay. With permission from management, she brought sacks of compost from her farm and planted the first seeds of what is now a thriving garden.
Today there are about 20 different varieties of organic herbs and vegetables growing in Arya's Potager Garden, under the green thumb of horticulturist Ruiz Fuentebella and his team. With a prolific harvest, the bounty is now being shared with Arya residents, sold at cost, with the proceeds used to maintain the garden and purchase organic seedlings for future harvests.
Chef Bruce Ricketts, of Mecha Uma and Sensei, and his wife, Jae, are residents at Arya.
“During the lockdown, we really enjoyed using the herbs and vegetables that they grew on the roof,” says Ricketts, who says he uses mostly herbs such as rosemary and lemongrass.
Ricketts contributed a few homestyle recipes to a book published by Arthaland called The Potager Garden at Arya Residences, beautifully photographed by Neal Oshima. Connie González served as concept adviser, and her supportive husband was on board as one of the book’s copyeditors.
“It’s very basic, easy home cooking, nothing crazy,” says Ricketts of the recipes he shared. “They’re simple recipes we make as light snacks to have here at home.”
With the heartwarming response from Arya’s residents to the garden and the book, Jaime González says the group is replicating the Potager Garden concept in other current and future Arthaland developments.
“We are immensely proud to be able to provide a blossoming oasis at the heart of the metropolis and to be a source of nourishment for our community,” says González in a message in the book.
“Wealth is not only determined by material assets. It includes living a meaningful existence bursting with comfort, health, happiness, and sharing these flavors with the people we love most.”
Smoky Eggplant Dip
by Bruce Ricketts (from the book, The Potager Garden at Arya Residences)
This is the Asian version of the Middle Eastern Baba Ganoush. Serves two to three.
3 to 4 eggplants/ 250 grams
1 red chili
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon green onion, green part only, chopped
pinch of salt
Puncture eggplant with a fork. Grill under a broiler or directly over a flame until blackened. Allow to cool and peel off skin. Grill the chili and garlic for an even smokier flavor.
Using a food processor or mortar and pestle, crush the chili, garlic, and salt. Add the eggplant and coriander and blitz to a smooth paste.