Green thumb cops, families begin harvesting ‘go, grow, glow’ foods in their backyards

Published July 23, 2020, 10:54 AM

by Marie Tonette Marticio

TACLOBAN City – With the increasing prices of commodities and the movement restrictions due to the community quarantine in the last four months, many families, including policemen have started growing their own food at home and in the office.


P/Cpl. Marvin Makabingkel who is assigned at the Police Regional Office 8 headquarters, together with other police officers, planted vegetables on the vacant lot in their motor pool using old tires as plant boxes.

He shared that aside from fixing vehicles, he also loves to cook that is why he started planting herbs and vegetables that they can use during the quarantine.

“We made use of the things that are available around us to plant. After working, we sow some seeds, which is fun because we get to see them grow each day. It is also an effective way to de-stress,” he shared.

Roselle Tupa, an accounting graduate from Dulag, Leyte who is reviewing for her board exams decided to make use of her time at home to plant because her parents kept complaining about the rising prices of vegetables.

“My struggle was the seeds. I got some from the Department of Agriculture (DA), but they were limited. We also lack fertile soil because our space is cemented,” she said as she was starting her home garden.

Roselle said planting has become their family’s way to bond. Her father, who does not work on Fridays, and her younger sibling, helped prepare the land, while her mother and sister helped plant and maintain their garden.

“It is somehow costly to start a garden, but I sought financial help from my parents. I told them that once we harvest, I think it will pay off,” she said.

Roselle has already harvested pechay, bell pepper, kangkong. She has now started propagating ampalaya, patola, squash, and other vegetables. 

Wanting to grow their own food while staying at home has motivated Cherry Catherine Gagarin’s family to plant.

“We could save a lot if we grow our own food, and we can ensure that our children eat vegetables because we can prepare what they eat at home,” Gagarin said.

She and her husband took advantage of the quarantine implemented in the city to teach their daughters how to plant, feed their pets, and do household chores. 

With the increasing demand for seeds, Brgy. 81, Marasbaras, through the Youth for Human Ecological Society (YHES) organization has distributed vegetable seedlings to families.

Their village chair, Atty. Iris Ting, shared that they purchased seeds that they sowed on egg trays and distributed among 72 families who took interest in home gardening.

“We just tried but many wanted to plant. Some of them even went directly to the barangay hall to ask for the seedlings. Most of them have already started harvesting vegetables,” she said.

These initiatives have helped the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) call for a change in the Filipino diet by switching to plant-based meals as an effective measure to lessen the ecological footprint of human food consumption.

DENR-8 Regional Executive Director stressed that the need to lessen the people’s carbon footprint has never been as important and as urgent today “especially so that we made some headway in our effort to fight climate change during the long period of community quarantines brought by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”

This coincides with the nationwide celebration of July as Nutrition Month which encourages the public to include more vegetables and fruits into their diet as recommended by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in proportion with three main food groups of “go, grow, and glow” foods.

A month-long public information drive was launched by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) dubbed as “Plant-Based Solutions for Climate Change.”

During the celebration of Month of the Planet Earth in April this year, they initiated activities with similar objectives dubbed as “EMB 8’s Home Gardening” where they distributed vegetable seeds to their employees and encouraged them to plant vegetables in their homes. 

The produce of which is donated to poor communities together with additional seeds for them to plant.

“Instead of dole-out activities, the challenge is for the people themselves to plant and grow vegetables then learn to share the seeds to other members of their respective communities. In a way, we encourage them to make vegetables the main component of their diet and in effect, reduce their carbon footprints,” Letecia Maceda, EMB-8 Regional Director noted.

According to the 2013 study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, meat, and dairy—particularly from cows—account for around 14.5 percent of the global greenhouse gases each year. That is said to be roughly the same amount as emissions from all the cars, trucks, airplanes, and ships in the world combined.

A recent study by the University of Oxford suggested that cutting meat and dairy products from a person’s diet could also reduce the carbon footprint from food by up to 73 percent.

As shared by Brent Logan, global food lead of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and author of Diet for a Better Future Report, producing food for earth’s 7.7 billion people is responsible for a quarter of the global carbon emissions that drive climate change. 

From that, DENR-8 said about 40 percent comes from livestock production and food waste, with the rest generated by rice production, fertilizer use, land conversion, and deforestation to accommodate commercial crops.