RC Manila Fort Santiago launches Gulayan sa Pamayanan as Food Resiliency Initiative

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LCP Rex Pajenado

The Coronavirus pandemic has been in the Philippines for almost two years and we still don’t know how long it will last. The COVID-19 pandemic is continuously changing the world in unexpected ways.

Along with the appalling health situation, many Filipinos have lost their jobs and cannot go out to find work. As the result of lockdowns and the closing down of transport systems, people are constrained to stay in their houses and cannot go out to earn money for their families. Maybe the middle-class families can take care of themselves under these restrictions, but the poor households who live day-to-day are suffering under this set up, especially when it comes to food. With no income, people can’t put food on the table to feed their families and there is a concern on hunger.

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LCP Rex Pajenado, a staunch advocate of urban gardening, started his urban gardening project entitled: Gulayan sa Pamayanan: Let’s Grow Our Own Healthy Food Now! Seeing the potential of urban gardening, and not allowing anything to limit this vision, the Rotary Club of Manila Fort Santiago partnering with the Bureau of Plant and Industry, launched an urban gardening project in Brgy. Isabelita, San Juan City, last September 11. In line with the Rotary’s Areas of Focus: Economic and Community Development and Supporting the Environment, the project started by conducting gardening and plant propagation training, followed by the distribution of gardening tools and materials, assorted vegetable seeds, seedlings, and fertilizers. The lactating moms of the community also received seedlings like malunggay and alugbati to nourish them, also to address one of Rotary’s area of focus, Maternal and Child Health.

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We need to help one another and work with the government agencies and local government units to promote and to spread the knowledge about how to grow healthy and organic vegetables. This is not the time to complain so much but to help one another. If we could multiply this effort, people can feed their own families, even if they don’t have money to buy food in the market. In their own backyards, small pots or buckets, and on land in their local communities, they can get the nutritious greens they need for their families.

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Now, more than ever, we need to encourage the interest on Filipinos growing their own food, so that we can help them to achieve food sustainability amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Urban gardening is an applicable intervention to assure communities and the urban poor to have access to affordable and food.