Pililla, Rizal – Adding its reach to continue in forwarding sustainable and inclusive gardening to help uplift the lives of the different sectors in the Philippines during COVID-19, the Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) with support from the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) launched the implementation of School-plus-home Garden Projects (S+HGP) in Niogan Elementary School (Niogan ES) on 22 July 2021.
Niogan Elementary School is one of the elementary schools situated at Barangay Niogan in the Municipality of Pililla. Twenty parent and teacher beneficiaries of home gardening kits sponsored by SEARCA and PFSI attended the launching ceremony.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms. Solita F. Combis, Niogan ES Principal, expressed her utmost appreciation to both SEARCA and PSFI and emphasized the important role of the school environment in the development of the child’s perception to agriculture and gardening.
“The school is a big institution for promoting and developing a learning culture about agriculture for our students. And this won’t be possible if it weren’t for the support of parents who teach their child at home about its essence and proper nutrition. We are blessed especially with SEARCA and Pilipinas Shell Foundation for helping Niogan ES develop its own community garden,” said Ms. Combis.
Dr. Pedcris M. Orencio, SEARCA Program Head for Research and Thought Leadership Department (RTLD), resonated what Ms. Combis and Mr. Camano told to the parents and shared the importance of community gardens.
“In order to eradicate malnutrition and food insecurity among the youth, I believe we must encourage them to eat green leafy vegetables and at the same time, teach them the basics of home gardening and some hands-on learning activities,” said Dr. Orencio.
SEARCA’s S+HGP is a collaboration among the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), and the Department of Education (DepEd) of the Philippines, district of Laguna. Since its establishment in 2017, it was piloted in six schools in Laguna with a community participatory model where harvests from the school gardens provide vegetables for each respective school-based feeding program.
Dr. Orencio further emphasized that the project was able to develop a greater sense of responsibility not just for a healthy diet but also for a healthy living environment for Filipino families and the community-at-large.
Together with Mr. Bernardo S. Camano, Jr. and Mr. Pajee Ferc J. Salcedo of PSFI, the SEARCA delegation comprised Dr. Orencio and Dr. Romeo V. Labios, Operations Consultant for Partnerships, Mr. Manuel S. Alejar, SEARCA Liaison for Community Relations, and Mr. Nathan P. Felix, Senior Public Relations Associate, all of the Partnerships Unit.