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4Ps families benefit from communal gardening amid pandemic

When the whole country was placed under a state of public health emergency due to COVID-19, Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries from Barangay Poblacion, Samboan, Cebu were able to find a sustainable source of healthy food during the pandemic through their communal garden.

“Naapektuhan sad among panginabuhian ato labi na nga nag-declare og community quarantine ug dili na gyud ka basta-basta makagawas sa balay. Sama nako nga manikurista dili naman ko ka home service” (The declaration of community quarantine affected our livelihood. One cannot easily go out of the house. As a manicurist, I could not anymore do home service), shared Erlinda Cabag, a 4Ps beneficiary and purok leader.

Despite receiving food assistance from their local government unit (LGU) and augmentation support from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Erlinda said they do not want to rely on government aid all the time.

This is why they are grateful to the program for helping them set up their vegetable garden during one of their Family Development Sessions (FDS). FDS is the monthly gathering of 4Ps beneficiaries where they discuss and learn relevant knowledge and information that could help them improve their quality of life.

At first, Erlinda shared that she did not know anything about gardening. However, because of the willingness and cooperation of her group members, she eventually learned to grow various types of crops.

DSWD Communal Gardening Program
Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries from Barangay Poblacion, Samboan, Cebu celebrate their first place win in the in the 2021 4Ps Gulayan sa Barangay.

“Nagsugod kini nga idea sa usa namo ka pagtapok-tapok nga magtugod kami og garden ug wala gyud mi nagdahom nga mapanindot gyud kini namo” (The idea to make a communal garden was conceptualized during one of our meetings. We did not expect it to become a flourishing vegetable garden), said Erlinda.

The group utilized the available lot in their barangay and placed recyclable materials like used plastic bottles and paint cans to plant vegetables such as lettuce, tomato, eggplant, pumpkin, bitter gourd, radish, potato, and malunggay. They also planted local medicinal plants like mayana, serpentina, lagundi, and kalabo.

To maintain the crops, they used dried leaves, food scraps, and animal manure for composting as a valuable fertilizer that can enrich the garden soil and plants.

Aside from vegetation, they also added a small fish pond and a chicken coop in their communal garden.

Erlinda added that they also share the fresh produce from their communal garden with other non-4Ps beneficiaries or locals from other barangays.

Meanwhile, Lynn Gerzon, a solo parent and 4Ps member of Barangay Poblacion, shared that having a communal garden helped her to save money since the vegetables available in their backyard enabled her to provide free nutritious meals for her children.

“Ang budget nga unta para ipalit og gulay didto sa merkado kay ipalit na nako sa laing importanteng butang kay naa naman mi gulayan likod sa among balay ug naa pud gulayan sa among barangay” (The budget I allocated to buy vegetables, I would use instead to buy other important things because we already have a backyard garden and a barangay communal garden), said Lynn.

“Akong mga anak kay mangita gyud og sabaw nga utan mao nga kung naa kay gitanom nga mga gulay sama sa okra ug talong maka dali-dali gyud ka og luto. Bati man sad kung puro ra buwad imong sud-an mao nga nakatabang kining pagtanom og gulay sa among pamilya aron aduna kami masustansya nga pagkaon” (My children would always ask for vegetable soup, that is why, if you grow vegetables like okra and eggplant, you can immediately cook it. I think it is not healthy to always have dried fish as viand. Growing vegetables helped our family to have healthy meals), Lynn added.

Winning in competitions

The hardwork of the 4Ps members paid off when they joined and won the second place for the purok containerized category in the SUGBUsog program of the Cebu Provincial Government. The program encouraged non-farmers to grow vegetables in their backyard and generate enough food supply during the pandemic.

The group won P72,000 and a piglet which they can raise from joining the vegetable competition.

Through the encouragement of their Pantawid Municipal Link and endorsement from their LGU, the 4Ps beneficiaries also joined and bagged the first place in the DSWD 4Ps Gulayan sa Barangay which aimed to encourage 4Ps partner-beneficiaries to cultivate their own garden, promote health and nutrition, and food security in the community.

The DSWD pledges to continue to support the communal garden projects of 4Ps beneficiaries as one way to help alleviate malnutrition among poor families and contribute to the government’s goal of achieving a zero hunger Philippines.

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