Mondelez Philippines and the Urban Vegetable Garden Movement
Mother Judith Estrada from Pateros has always liked planting gardens. Resourceful and diligent, she likes seeing things grow. Last year, she got the push she needed to grow her garden. Now she’s harvesting tomatoes, chilies, okra and eggplants from her backyard. She’s able to feed her family fresh vegetables, at virtually no cost. This is urban gardening, the movement that’s empowering families to grow fresh food and be one step closer to good nutrition.
Judith even won Mondelez Philippines’ urban vegetable gardening contest held in 2014. She was awarded for having the most abundant garden among the parents of her child’s school P. Manalo Elementary. Through Mondelez Philippines’ flagship Joy Schools program, teachers and parents of beneficiary schools like Judith were invited to learn from an urban gardening seminar. As the name suggests, parents were taught how to make use of discarded bottles, sacks and containers – which would otherwise be trash, to use as pots for planted vegetables.
Urban gardens and other initiatives that seek to build better futures are the focus of Mondelez Philippines’ Joy Schools program. Through this, six public elementary schools nationwide have been adopted by the Company and its employees under a 3-year period to help transform the schools into joyful centers of learning. The program aims to achieve this through interventions for nutrition, teacher training and facilities improvement. Urban gardening is one of the initiatives for promoting good nutrition.
The gift that keeps on giving. Urban gardening or often called community gardening is an empowering movement that’s gaining ground not only in the Philippines but in other Cities around the world, even the USA. In Detroit, Michigan for example urban gardening has been one of the ways to uplift the City embattled by recession during the past decade. The movement has been providing not only food but job opportunities to its residents. This is something that can very well be adapted here in the Philippines.
Working together. That’s the theme of the Urban Gardening seminar provided to parents of Mondelez Philippines’ adopted Joy Schools. The seminar helped empower parents and schools to grow their own food and provide nutrition to their children.
“We believe in the potential of families and of urban gardening,” explains Maria Cindy C. Lim, Head of Corporate and Government Affairs of Mondelez Philippines, the company formerly named Kraft Foods. “There are a lot of initiatives out there to help families alleviate malnutrition. One thing we’d like to help build as well is for the capacity of families to help themselves. Not just to share food, but to share knowledge that would help them grow their own food, independent of any help. That’s the vision of our support and how we aim to create joy for them.”
As a food manufacturing company, Mondelez Philippines sought partnership with East West Seed Foundation for their expertise in urban gardening technologies. The latter aims to play the role of Filipino farmers’ champion. It has been empowering farmers by providing the right tools: good seeds and greater knowledge. They also provide comprehensive and practical training for teachers and students to learn about urban vegetable farming.
The urban garden at P. Manalo Elementary School in Pateros. Urban vegetable gardens not only help beautify concrete areas. They can also be a source of free food for schools and livelihood for parents.
Gardens of life. “What we teach parents and teachers are practical and life-long lessons that they can use in-school and at home, wherever they live,” relates Mary Joyce Gaviola, Program Officer for East West Seed Foundation (EWSF) and the main lecturer during the seminars for Mondelez Philippines’ Joy Schools.
She adds, “We promote the benefits of eating vegetables, because sometimes there are still parents who don’t eat them, much less their children. Then we teach them how to decide where to put their gardens - even with limited space, what kinds of vegetables grow with limited sun, how much soil to use, and the like. After this we take them through hands-on exercise to give them the feel of planting on their own.”
Held in partnership with the East West Seed Foundation, the urban gardening seminars gave parents hands-on experience in planting vegetables. Shown in this picture are parents transplanting seedlings into sacks to help them grow.
“We’re thankful for the partnership with EWSF,” adds Lim. “They’ve given our adopted parents and teachers better understanding of how to provide for their own families. We’ll be working closely with them in the future to monitor the gardens that are being grown. Our great hope is that more parents take this up, and maybe even make this a source of livelihood.”
Julie Damian, a parent from Bayanan Main Elementary School in Muntinlupa says she’s learned a lot from the seminar. “Masaya, marami akong natutunan. Lalo na kung saan dapat tinatanim ang maliliit at malalaking buto. Alam ko na kung paano magtatanim ng gulay sa bahay kahit wala akong espasyo. Nasagot ang mga tanong ko tungkol sa pagtatanim sa mga bote, paso, gulong; iyong mga pwedeng ilagay sa gilid ng pader.”
All the participants during the training were provided with starter kits of seeds, sacks and soil. Julie adds that these will help her family a great deal, “Makakatipid ako ng malaki. Kapag kailangan ko ng gulay, magpipitas na lang ako, may ulam na kami.”
Growing Communities. Julie also shared that she plans to keep some of her plants inside her children’s school, something that its Principal Antonio Gagala encourages. After all, parents and teachers work hand in hand in improving the nutrition of children. Jonald Trinidad, the Urban Gardening Coordinator of Bayanan Main Elementary is one of those who works closely with the parents of his school.
He explains, “Ang pinaka-nagustuhan ko ay iyong hands-on planting activity. Pati na ang mga magulang dahil nagtatanong din sila sa akin tungkol sa urban gardening. Kaya gustong-gusto nila iyong hands-on. Pati iyong mga co-teachers ko nagustuhan iyon. Maganda kasing nakikita kasabay noon, ginagawa namin ng magkakasama.”
Learning through practice, together. Like any movement, urban gardening will grow roots only through the collaboration of a community. Through the shared interest of parents, the collaboration of the school, and the support from partners like Mondelez Philippines.
For more information on how Mondelez Philippines creates delicious moments of joy, visit http://ph.mondelezinternational.com.