During the previous year, the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been felt by people globally. In the Philippines, the community quarantine in the world has been imposed.
Although the quarantine has been placed for the benefit of the people, it has also provided new challenges that threatened how people live. It cost countless Filipinos their source of livelihood and limited their mobility, which also obstructed food from reaching the various points in the country.
But the problem of food security has started even before the pandemic struck. According to Earwin A. Belen, a licensed agriculturist, Metro Manila’s food security has always been at risk because the fresh produce sold in the area is sourced from further areas such as Benguet, Batangas, Cavite, and Rizal.
To solve this ongoing problem of food insufficiency, the Department of Agriculture encouraged the public to start urban gardening and make their time in quarantine productive as well as fulfilling.
Other local organizations are also encouraging residents to engage in urban agriculture for a sustainable and practical source of food.
Starting a waste-to-waist agriculture system
Urban gardening doesn’t have to be solely exclusive to the person or farm growing the food. Since food waste is also a pressing matter that continues to catch the attention of many, a community engaged in urban agriculture can not just secure a fresh source of food but also help save the environment.
One way to do this is through the “Waste-To-Waist” system which was developed by Belen. The goal of this community-supported agriculture framework is to provide accessible food for all while promoting inclusivity through environment-friendly practices.
The system has two segments that focus on production and sustainability.
It starts with the urban farm which produces high-value crops such as vegetables and herbs, or anything that common Filipino households need.
Next, urban farmers maintain a sustainable approach by adapting activities such as composting, recycling, and more. The farm products are then made available to the community.
For the next segment, the community gives back to the environment by gathering their waste from homes to be given to the urban farm to use in activities like composting and recycling.
Residents from the area and other consumers can then secure that the produce from the urban farm is naturally grown. And they can claim that they played a hand in growing the food that they eat.
According to Belen, there are several benefits to following the waste-to-waist system. It solves the problem of food security and makes fresh, healthy food available to the people. This approach also raises environmental awareness and reduces the amount of waste that usually goes to landfills.
Three components to get started
Should a community decide to follow Belen’s system of urban agriculture, there are three components required to secure its success.
The first step is to assess the needs of the community to provide solutions to the identified gaps. For instance, if urban farmers see the demand for particular vegetables and crops in their community, they can grow these specific varieties to meet the needs of the people. They can also decide what type of gardening should be done, like container or raised bed gardening, that best fits the community’s available resources and space.
Aside from growing vegetables, community urban farmers can also engage in other activities such as aquaponics, livestock raising, and more.
Once the community has been assessed, the next step is to provide interested individuals with training on urban vegetable production.
Lastly, awareness of proper waste segregation and disposal should be raised among the members of the community to make sure that the waste that goes to urban farms is useful and safe.
Urban gardening has a lot of benefits. It provides a solution against the threat of food insecurity in cities since it makes fresh, healthy food available to the Filipinos. Growing food in the city, especially if done by a community, can also help mitigate the harmful effects of climate change since people can play a part in promoting sustainable agriculture in their respective areas.
This topic was discussed in the webinar series, Bahay Kubo Kitchens, hosted by Mesa Ni Misis.