Legarda Urges Home Food Gardening and Backyard Farming to Ensure Food Availability and Supply

May 22, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda urged individuals and households to install their own food garden and do backyard farming to ensure food availability and supply at home, during the second episode of “Stories for a Better Normal: Pandemic and Climate Change Pathways,” an online knowledge-for-action discussion series on COVID-19 and the climate emergency.

The second episode focused on the ways individuals and households can grow their own food, and strategies to sustain urban and community gardens, by featuring practical tips and advice. Resource speakers were Assistant Director Rosana Mula of the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI), Niccolo Aberasturi of DowntoEarth PH, Patis Tesoro of PatisTito Garden Café & Permaculture Farm, Carol Malasig, a Berlin-based journalist and content writer of the blog Almost Diplomatic, and Barangay Captain Sheryl Nolasco of Brgy. Potrero, Malabon.

“Through urban home gardening and backyard farming, we are teaching ourselves how to be self-sufficient, especially in this time of pandemic and climate crisis. Through simple ways, we can convert vacant spaces at home, even in a small apartment or condo, to plant fruits, vegetables, and herbs. A better normal is ensuring there’s food availability and supply in the comfort of our homes,” said Legarda, a home gardener herself and author of House Bill No. 637 or the Food Forest Gardening Act of 2019.

Mula discussed the government’s “Plant, Plant, Plant Program,” which aims to increase the country’s agri-fishery output in order to support productivity across all commodities and ensure food productivity, accessibility, and affordability nationwide. She also shared that the DA-ATI is facilitating the free distribution of household starter kits with seeds and bags for those living in areas with no adequate space for gardens.

“Mayroong starter kits for households, para sa mga nakatira sa condominium, at para sa mga walang enough spaces. The kits come with soil, compost, seeds, and detailed instructions on how to grow them. We are also encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, to produce some food to sell in the community,” said Mula.

Aberasturi emphasized the basics of food gardening, such as regenerative agriculture and the process of mulching, as well as the initiatives of DownToEarth PH in promoting compact ecosystems and vertical gardens.

“Dapat sabay ang pagtanim ng pagkain at paglinis ng environment. Importante ang organikong pamamaraan sa pagpapatubo: ‘yung tubig kailangan lang mawala ang chlorine para mabuhay siya. Dapat hindi natin papatayin ‘yung mga mikrobyo na nagpapabuhay ng mga halaman natin. In short, pakainin natin ‘yung lupa at ‘yung lupa ang magpapakain sa mga halaman natin,” said Aberasturi.

Tesoro, who is also a long-time advocate of heritage preservation and promotion of indigenous textiles, discussed her beginnings in “permaculture.”

“Planting entails a lot of organization. You don’t just go and plant anything or risk wasting a lot of money, time, and expense. Permaculture is looking at your land and looking at your environment and not cutting down trees. It is working around what is growing on your land and trying to be as organic as you can,” said Tesoro.

Malasig, who lives in Berlin, Germany, introduced the concept of Kleingarten or “small garden” and how the Germans place importance in urban gardening as a way of life, especially for city dwellers and those living in apartments.

“For a lot of Germans, gardening is an essential part of their lives. Even the city dwellers make sure to have their own herbs at home. They also have what they call “kleingarten,” where citizens can apply to use a small piece of land to build a garden. Of course, they have to properly tend to their garden, otherwise, they lose the space,” said Malasig.

Barangay Captain Nolasco shared how Barangay Potrero, with the help of Legarda and Mother Earth Foundation, facilitated and championed the proper implementation of ecological solid waste management, which earned them the Best Solid Waste Management Program Award of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in 2016.

“Three years ago, natutunan ng Brgy. Potrero ang ecological solid waste management at itinuro po namin ito sa 12,000 households para bigyang importansya ang segregation. Ang unang Materials Recovery Facility ay isang private lot at ngayo’y nakapagpo-produce na ng gulay at medicinal plants na ipinamimigay namin sa karatig-lugar,” said Nolasco.

Legarda also showed her own backyard farm, which is one way to secure and ensure a steady supply of safe and nutritious food even in the most challenging of times.

“The way to go towards the future, the way to live now, is not going back to how we were before. That would be a big mistake with no lessons learned. A better normal should be a life that is more sustainable, healthier, more resilient, and safer for all of us.” Legarda concluded.

As an online discussion to promote good health, environmental and climate-friendly, and sustainable practices, Stories for a Better Normal aims to change the mindset of individuals and families to lead sustainable lives towards a healthier, safer, and much better normal than we used to have.

This initiative is a partnership between the Office of the Deputy Speaker Legarda and the Climate Change Commission (CCC), with support from the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), The Climate Reality Project-Philippines, and Mother Earth Foundation.

Next week’s episode will focus on sustainable urban mobility, in celebration of World Bike Day on June 3.