Community Garden Project during the COVID-19 Pandemic

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LCP Cecille Nunez

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenge of hunger and food insecurity across our country. Malnutrition continues to persist and is now worsening. Lack of employment opportunities and high retail food prices makes food items unaffordable and hinders the ability of poor households to meet their daily food and dietary needs.

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Our club, RC Pasay Metro Sunrise initiated a “Community Garden Project” at three locations: Barangay Maluid Victoria Tarlac, Barangay San Jacinto Victoria Tarlac and Barangay San Nicolas Victoria Tarlac. This is our way to help families reduce pandemic-related economic losses by supplementing their diet with nutritious foods. This can also play a major role in addressing other effects of the pandemic, serving as a space that not only provides access to fresh foods to alleviate food insecurity but also as a source of social support and emotional well-being for community residents. It provides the residents the ability to connect and socialize thus improving their mental health.

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Here are a number of benefits of community gardens:
⦁ Beautifying Communities. Turning idle land eyesores into vibrant green space, improves the quality of life for everyone in the neighborhood.
⦁ Fresh Produce. Provision of fresh, nutritious produce for many families who couldn’t otherwise afford it, improving their diet and their overall health.
⦁ Healthy Lifestyles. Gardening gives a chance to enjoy fresh air and healthy outdoor exercise. They may also have a role in reducing stress and promoting better mental health.
⦁ A Cleaner Environment. The plants in a community garden add oxygen to the air and help reduce air pollution. They also absorb rainwater, reducing the amount of runoff that runs through the streets and carries pollutants into rivers and lakes.

⦁ Stronger Communities. Sharing a community garden gives people a chance to connect with their neighbors. They also feel more personally invested in the places where they live, gaining sense of ownership and community spirit.
⦁ Educational Opportunities. Working in a community garden is a good way for kids to learn about where food comes from and gain a basic introduction to environmental issues, work skills, and business principles. It can be educational for adults as well.

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The land used for the community gardens were idle lands. We had an agreement with landowners to lend us the land on a yearly basis. Our club provided seeds and supplies for free. Gardening and maintenance tasks are done entirely by the beneficiaries. Individual gardeners are required to work their own plots – planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. They are required to keep the paths next to their garden beds weed-free and take proper care of the garden tools. Our community gardens are the collective efforts of people with the patience and determination to make things grow.

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Community garden project is a complex project that should not be undertaken lightly. It can take months of hard work and planning before the project finally bears fruit – or vegetables, as the case may be. But for us, the benefits of community gardening – fresh air and exercise, green spaces, source of food, the chance to build community, and the taste of a ripe tomato you grew – make the effort well worth it.