School and home gardens as learning sites and source of nutritious food and income launched in Laguna, Philippines
MAJAYJAY, LAGUNA, Philippines – The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the Department of Education - Division of Laguna (DepEd Laguna), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) officially launched the garden-based education and nutrition project targeting malnourished children in five elementary schools and one high school in Laguna, Philippines.
SEARCA, DepEd Laguna, and UPLB signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on 22 July 2016 to institutionalize cooperation in the implementation of the project, “A Participatory Action Research on School- and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development” also known as School and Home Gardens.
The project, which started in January 2016, generally aims to improve the nutritional condition and dietary habits of school-aged children and contribute to community’s food and nutrition security. School and home gardens are being promoted as learning sites and source of nutritious food and savings or income for the school children, their families and the participating schools.
In his message, the SEARCA Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., highlighted the importance of school gardens to meet the nutritional needs of school children; heighten appreciation for agriculture among the youth; protect the environment; and serve as “an alternative source of food and income for rural families to address the looming problems of rural poverty and hunger which prevent access of many school children to quality education.”
Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr. acknowledged the significance of the school and home gardens project in translating UPLB’s commitment to reach out to the Filipino people through knowledge and technology sharing. In the case of the project, Chancellor Sanchez explained that participating schools and communities will greatly benefit from the technical training and information on edible landscaping, nutrition, and organic agriculture that the UPLB staff will provide to them.
On behalf of Dr. Josilyn S. Solana, the Schools Division Superintendent (SDS) of Laguna, Dr. Neil G. Angeles, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent (ASDS) and Dr. Orlando T. Valverde, the Curriculum Implementation Division (CID) Chief, cited their strong support to the project considering that it aligns well with the Gulayan sa Paaralan advocacy of the DepEd. They expressed their appreciation to SEARCA and UPLB for the opportunity to better equip selected teachers in training students, other teachers and the community on the best practices in small-scale gardening, organic agriculture, as well as new and innovative gardening techniques and methodologies.
After the MOA signing ceremony, the participants toured around Majayjay Elementary School (MES) Organic Garden, specifically the SEARCA-UPLB supported school garden, which is a 100 m2 area with a small greenhouse that serves as seedling nursery and which is equipped with rainwater collection system. The garden has been planted with different vegetable crops based on the school garden design and plan prepared in April 2016 during the Seminar-Workshop on School Garden Planning. The garden produce will be utilized in the School-based Feeding Program (SBFP) of DepEd.
SEARCA and UPLB Project officials pose by the mini greenhouse that was provided by the Project to Majayjay Elementary School. The greenhouse comes with rainwater collector drums.
The Majayjay Elementary School headed by its principal, Ms. Myrna G. Dorado and the District Supervisor of Magdalena-Majayjay, Dr. Flora G. Rondilla co-organized and hosted the event. The participants of the event involved officials and staff of SEARCA, UPLB, DepEd Laguna, and the local government of Majayjay. The principals and teachers of the participating schools witnessed the formalization of ties among partner agencies. Several personnel from the local government unit (LGU) of Laguna were also present during the event. The program was formally closed by the newly inducted Mayor of Majayjay, Hon. Carlo Invinzor B. Clado. (Anna Gale C. Vallez)
Dr. Neil G. Angeles, Assistant Schools Division Superintendent of Laguna (left), Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director (center) and Dr. Fernando C. Sanchez, Jr., UPLB Chancellor (right) showing the signed tripartite Memorandum of Agreement, which signaled the culmination of the Project Phase II.