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Dar urges use of rooftops, verandas as veggie gardens

TRANSFORM rooftops and verandas into vegetable gardens.

This is the appeal of Agriculture Secretary William Dar to residents and building owners who have rooftops and verandas to utilize them for urban agriculture amid the pandemic.

Dar made the appeal as part of the DA’s continuing efforts to promote urban agriculture in this time of pandemic.

When applicable, let’s transform rooftops and verandas, in addition to vacant lots, into vegetable gardens that could provide our families steady supply of fresh, nutritious and affordable food,” Dar said.

Dar explained that bare rooftops absorb and radiate heat, and making them into gardens will also help cool houses and buildings.

Rooftops covered with vegetable gardens is now a common sight in many cities around the world. And more private companies and city authorities are starting to invest in green roofs, due to its wide-range benefits both for food security and environment concerns,” Dar added.

He also enjoined local chief executives in Metro Manila and other urban areas to promote the development of ‘green’ and eco-friendly buildings and communities, by issuing appropriate ordinances.

Dar made the appeals during the recently-held meeting with officials of RE-TERRA, a youth organization that conducted a national competition to garner innovative, transformative, and futuristic designs that integrate agriculture into urban setting.

The group — in partnership with the DA and Pasig City government led by Mayor Vico Sotto — launched the contest in November 2020, attracting hundreds of young architects and students from 42 schools nationwide, and three from other countries.

During the meeting, RE-TERRA founder architect Kathleen Encorporado, presented the four finalists to Dar, who served as one of the judges, along with Mayor Sotto and three others.

Encoporado said the four finalists were chosen and announced on Feb. 20, 2021. The winners are Sibol: An Urban Community Farming Development Project (Team 1013); UrbaniTree: A Suspended Greenhouse (Team 1016); Dandro Farms (Team 1084); and URB: A Call for Pasig City to Counter Urban (Team 1127).

Encorporado said they will also present the respective designs of the four contest finalists to Mayor Sotto in April. As contest lead and host, Pasig City has designated idle lots where the winning designs will be constructed in partnership with interested commercial developers.

Our dream is to do the RE-TERRA urban design every year, and replicate it with other cities as a joint venture with the developer because this is very doable. It can be a showpiece for the city, the DA and the developer,” said young entrepreneur Jeffrey Oh, who serves as the group’s agritech consultant.

The grand winner will be announced in May 2021, during the Farmers’ and Fisherfolk’s month celebration.