Urban gardening pushed as community pantries sprout nationwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of living in healthier communities.  One way this can be achieved is through urban agriculture, which has become more popular these days.

Apart from breathing in cleaner air, urban agriculture can also serve as a sustainable food source. This is why the Department of Agriculture (DA) through its Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) is pushing for more community gardens in urban areas.

“Our goal is to enhance the capability of the city dwellers to grow their own food so that they will have access to safe and nutritious food items as we continue our battle with the pandemic,” said BPI assistant director Glenn Panganiban.

The DA has already established 36 community gardens in urban areas in the country in partnership with local government units, national government agencies, non-government organizations, the private sector, and academe.

Panganiban said the DA is eyeing to develop 85 more community gardens under its Urban Agriculture program.

“What we want to achieve under the Urban Agriculture program is that our countrymen can plant in their backyards so that they will have access to food since there are a lot of limitations during this pandemic,” Panganiban said.

He added that under the program, 938,561 seed packets, amounting to P6.41 million have been distributed and 123 training (online and face-to-face) have been conducted to provide technical know-how to those who wish to put up food gardens.

The Urban Agriculture program showcases a variety of technologies that may be adapted in the community or in the homes such as hydroponics and vertical gardening.

It also supports containerized gardening which uses pots, old cans, and a number of different containers, if space is inadequate.

With the continuous onslaught of the virus, Panganiban said it is important to spread the concept of urban agriculture and establish more food gardens.

“This is a very therapeutic activity, fostering community spirit, and enabling everyone to heal and be healthy,” Panganiban said.