2020 was a challenging year for Philippine agriculture, but 2021 looks primed to be the year of urban gardening.
For some, the year that was became a chance for them to become parents – plant parents. While cooped up in their homes, many decided to purchase plants whether for home decor or healthier eating.
But on a larger scale, can this culture shift affect “go big” and boost our agri sector? Let’s explore that idea.
It starts at home
House plants and home gardens have emerged significantly in the middle of quarantine protocols. And this isn’t unique to us, this has happened globally.
It has helped the so-called plantitos and plantitas cope with the pandemic, and it opened more opportunities to strengthen the urban gardening agenda in the country.
With that said, we recall a statement made by Senator Cynthia Villar, Chairperson for the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food and the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources:
“Planting is something you can start alone or with your family. It’s a way of introducing agriculture to our children.”
On a larger scale, plant parenthood greatly impacts Philippine agriculture, particularly urban agriculture.
Saying, “Yes!” to urban gardening
Many Filipinos are practicing home gardening, and have now developed more interest in growing their own food, especially with health professionals continuously reminding us to consume healthier meals. This is of course to boost our immune systems – a must during a pandemic.
These were further encouraged by various online communities such as Facebook groups dedicated to urban gardening.
Fortunately, as the trend grows, people are seeing it as more than just a quarantine hobby. It now helps cut their budget on food, especially vegetables needed for meals. Instead of going to the market or grocery store, one can simply harvest new eggplants for their tortang talong. Mint? Rosemary? At arm’s reach!
Beyond providing food for our own tables, urban gardening is also considered a strategy for food security in the country. In times of calamities, such as typhoons, where crops could be destroyed, homegrown food can become the temporary source of food for households.
Urban agriculture for the future
To help encourage more households to grow their own vegetables, seed packs and organic fertilizers have been distributed aplenty by both public and private sectors.
Various training and workshops have also been conducted regarding vegetable production, even in the middle of the pandemic. These proved that there’s a great number of interested Pinoys trying to gain knowledge in securing alternative food sources.
The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) also launched its urban agriculture project in Taguig. This aims to transform vacant spaces in cities into urban farms.
The global pandemic has given rise to urban gardening, partly because of the disruption in the food supply. What was once invisible to most Filipinos, especially for those living in the cities, is now a powerful activity everyone can enjoy.
It may have taken years to know its importance, but it took a year to continuously maximize its potential, especially with the help of individuals and organizations advocating for it.
A harvest festival already welcomed 2021 at St. John Bosco Parish in Tondo, Manila last January 3, 2021. The Buhay Gulay Harvest Festival aims to promote urban farming among barangays in Metro Manila.
And with the start of a new year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has expressed its plans to better the situation of our local agriculture with technologies that support our local crops and farmers.
However, we’re more excited to see continuous growth in pocket-sized gardens in the city, whether shared online, or maybe within our own neighborhoods.
Have you started flexing your green thumb?