Food Forests with Bio-Intensive Gardens

Working with the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) – FEED’s first and longest Living Legacy partner since the 1990’s, “Food Forests” is a term FEED coined to describe its agro-forestry based approach to tree planting and reforestation programs in the Philippines.

agroforestry.jpgAgroforestry is a land use management system in which trees or shrubs are grown around or among crops or pastureland. This intentional combination of agriculture and forestry has varied benefits, including increased biodiversity and reduced erosion.

Whether in Public Elementary Schools or upland watersheds, downstream coastal and midland farms, FEED and its partners aim to “form progressive and productive communities where farming is harmonized with environmental conservation principles for sustained production of food, wood and provision of services through the use of sound agroforestry practices.” (Quote: Institute of Agroforestry, College of Forestry and Natural Resources, UPLB)

iirrAdditionally, having partnered with another Living Legacy advocate, the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) trained FEED in Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG).

The Challenge

As part of a total response to mitigate hunger and improve nutrition situation, the Department of Education (DepEd) institutionalized the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program (GPP a.k.a Vegetable for School program) in 2007. This program was further revitalized in 2010 with the National Greening Program, this time incorporating climate change mitigation and adaptation of components within school.

FEED’s adopted agro-forestry approach (guided by UPLB) in Food Forests and Bio-intensive Gardening (BIG) technology  addresses problems earlier identified as hindering the effective introduction and maintenance of school gardens. These school based Food Forests aim to contribute to environmental and climate change protection, food security and nutritional needs of school children; strengthen their appreciation and skills in agriculture, forestry and environment; upgrade their parent’s knowledge in these fields, help conserve agro biodiversity of nutritional importance and eventually enhance transgenerational learning about the role of vegetable in family nutrition and health In schools. The goal is to enhance the school nutrition program by improving the availability and use of nutritionally relevant indigenous vegetables. In both poor rural and urban communities, community garden and backyard approach is promoted to enhance dietary diversity of households. (Source: IIRR)

FEED’s Food Forest program incorporates not only the site preparation and planting, but also a Training of Trainers (TOT) designed to provide local community / school leaders  with technical inputs and experiences for School Gardens and Community Gardens, such that they are in turn able to retrain others.

The native tree species selection depends on the locality and ability to source relevant and indigenous Philippine fruit and other tree species from within the same province.

BIG is a biological (as opposed to chemical) form of agriculture in which a small area of land is intensively cultivated, using nature’s own ingredients to rebuild them and maintain the soil’s productivity.

Described as a low-external input approach, bio-intensive gardening (BIG) is widely being promoted in public elementary schools and communities. BIG provides simple solutions to the common issues in gardening. The training aims to facilitate establishment of school gardens that will serve as a spring board for wider promotion.

The TOT also aims to capacitate participants in implementing BIG in their respective communities and schools. Specifically, at the end of the training, the participants would have: (1) gained knowledge on basic concepts and practices of BIG and its link to nutrition; and (2) identified feasible actions to apply lessons learned.


In 2015, the Philippine government submitted to the United Nations the country’s commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030. The carbon dioxide reductions will come from the sectors of energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry.

FEED runs a number of Students and Volunteers for the Environment (SAVE)Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) – such as mangrove planting for coastal protection or ridge reforestation plantings; One Child, One Tree; Bio-Intensive Gardens (BIG) for nutrition in public elementary schools and other spaces; Climate Change Survival 101 and other LIVING LEGACY programs – customised environmental engagement activities for individuals and organisations interested in contributing to climate change adaptation efforts and greening critical areas such as watersheds, ridges, and reefs that all require rehabilitation.

Join us!  Help us reverse the Earth’s “hothouse climate” tipping point.

Tree-Planting with FEED

Check out the video journey by Clueless Commuter who planted with us last 24th of June 2017 to get a good idea of how FEED plantings go:


Contact us at FEED for more details, to join our regular activities or to design your own tree-nurturing event: or call/text +63 (0)917 552 4722.

© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc. 2019.