The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is encouraging the establishment of household and community gardening for local food production during the COVID-19 quarantine and lockdowns to help sustain especially vulnerable residents in the informal sector, the unemployed, and those unable to be gainfully employed at this time.
In a statement released April 6 to all archdiocesan clergy and parishioners, Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J. called on all the clergy to open parish spaces to community food gardening and set up. nurseries to ensure a continuous supply of planting materials.
“I am encouraging parishioners to set up their individual home gardens which can be container gardens for those within tight urban areas,” Ledesma said. “I am also encouraging parishioners to help in the community gardens.”
Ledesma said it is imperative that families and communities have access to locally produced food as the usual food chains from locked down areas like Bukidnon locally and rice sources like Vietnam and Thailand internationally tighten up.
“We need to produce nutritious food like vegetables, both leafy and protein sources (beans and legumes), and rice substitutes for carbohydrate, like sweet potatoes (camote) and bananas,” the cleric stressed.
“Let us intensify local food production through individual household and community gardening to help especially the poor, the unemployed, and those unable to be gainfully employed at this time.”
With sufficient local food supplies, the archbishop said not only is the family and the larger community assured of adequate meals and nutrition, bolstered immune systems, but gardening can also prevent hunger-related crime; and improve mental health.
“I am encouraging parishioners to set up their individual home gardens which can be container gardens for those within tight urban areas, but also help in the community gardens.”
He appealed to those with idle land to open them up for use as community gardens and for those who have special skills in agriculture, organic gardening, and food preservation, to volunteer their skills.
Cagayan de Oro has pool of experience agriculturists who have been pursuing local production of food through communal and backyard vegetable gardens. Among them are Xavier University College of Agriculture which implemented the The Periurban Vegetable Project (PUVeP) as part of the Research and Social Outreach Cluster;
In cooperation with the local government of Cagayan de Oro City as well as the municipality of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, barangay administrations, the Department of Education and local communities, it has implemented ten allotment gardens, three of which are located inside public elementary schools, equipped with ecological sanitation toilets for about 100 urban poor families.
Another is the Square Foot and Vertical Garden espoused by former COCPO Chief Col. Honorio Cervantes (Ret.) at his farm in Bgy. Pagatpat, an Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Learning Site that is hailed for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). He is a leading advocate of organic farming through urban gardening and regularly conducts seminars and orientations at his 300sqm farm.
Not the least, Cagayan de Oro City’s “Urban Household Container Gardening” (UHCG) Project aims to combat rising problems of malnutrition, poverty and high drop-out rates among school age children in Cagayan de Oro.
At-risk communities are taught to feed themselves by planting their own vegetables with their own, sometimes limited, space. For its second phase, The UHCG Project added the integration of Solid Waste Management by recycling and re-integrating waste from the city into their container gardening projects.
Paul Douglas Calingin, the city government's COVID-19 economic cluster head and acting city agriculturist, recently disclosed that the City Agricultural Productivity Office (APO) will be providing some 800 urban gardeners with seeds from the DA to immediately start plating to bolster the city’s local vegetable supply.
The UHCG Project is a joint program of the City Housing & Urban Development Department (CHUDD) HOA Federation, APO and City Social Welfare & Development Department.
The UHCG was awarded third place in the “Food Justice: Projects that improve food access in underserved communities” Category of the 2016 International Network for Urban Agriculture (INUAg) Awards.
However, Ledesma cautioned parishioners to strictly observe the mandated physical distancing in community gardens, and disinfect commonly used garden tools and seed packs and containers to be distributed.
The ACDO’s Health/Ganda Natural Farming Ministry team headed by Ms. An-An Denuyo, and the archdiocese Social Action workers will be assisting parishes and communities willing to pursue local food production projects in collaboration with DA, LGU’s, and other partners.
The Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro is an archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines. It is a metropolitan see on the island of Mindanao which is composed of the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Camiguin and the municipality of Malitbog, Bukidnon. It is headed by Archbishop Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J and its seat is located at Saint Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro City.
A rack with plastic bottles for succesful container gardening in a small area (vertical gardening) photo by Robert J. Holmer
Efficient rainwater catchment with simple tools (photo by Robert J. Holmer)
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