LOS BAÑOS, Laguna — A school garden program being implemented in Laguna has been showing the way to successfully produce vegetables.
Initially covering five public elementary and one secondary school, the program has been upscaled to cover 15 more grade and three high schools following the completion of its preliminary phase last June. It took off in January 2016.
The pilot schools include the Cabuyao Central School in Cabuyao City, San Andres Elementary School in Alaminos town, Labuin Elementary School in Pila, Majayjay Elementary School in Majayjay, Crisanto Guysayko Memorial Elementary School in Nagcarlan and Pedro Guevara Memorial National High School in the Laguna capital town of Sta. Cruz.
The program was envisioned to increase the knowledge and skills of pupils and teachers on food production and nutrition through experiential learning activities that instill the importance of agriculture, green technologies and environmental concerns (climate change and solid waste management).
During its preliminary phase (January 2016-June 2017), the program was supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Thailand-based SEAMEO secretariat, and the local government units (LGUs) of the towns and city where the pilot schools are located.
The LGUs provided garden facilities such as vermiculture (earthworm waste) composting sheds, planting materials, garden tools, nipa huts, and supplies (seeds, organic fertilizer, garden soils, and potting medium).
The Los Baños-based Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry-Economic Gardens provided the vegetable seeds planted.
DepEd-Laguna, SEARCA, and UPLB also installed mini-greenhouses with rainwater collection system in each pilot school for seedling and planting materials production and for demonstration of a climate change adaptation strategy.
During the program’s first 18 months, the gardens turned out an aggregate of 1,397 kilos (1.4 tons) of assorted vegetables. The bountiful harvests were used as ingredients in the schools’ feeding programs, shared with the pupils or their parents, sold at the school canteens and cooked by the pupils for their class activities. The non-marketable harvests were used for compost production.
The program also enabled the school children to gain more weight and grow taller owing to the increase in their intake of nutritious vegetables.
One hundred twenty-five lesson plans incorporating various education and science concepts such as nutrition, organic fertilizers, and climate change have been prepared.
The teaching tools were crafted in a series of seminars and workshops organized by DepEd-Laguna, SEARCA, and UPLB to broaden the knowledge of teachers on these concepts and principles. The workshops were capped by a “writeshop” to integrate the concepts in the lesson plans of Grades 4 and 7 in subject areas such as English, Mathematics, Science, Home Economics, Technology, and Livelihood Education.