31 May 2019, Malolos, Bulacan. Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School in Malolos Bulacan is the 5th public school in Bulacan installed with a FEED “Food Forest”, a term coined by FEED which endorses the agro-forestry principles gleaned from its Living Legacy Partner the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB); as well as integrating a Bio Intensive Garden (BIG) approach endorsed by FEED’s technical partner the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR).
Sponsored by the TIDES Foundation, FEED was able to source the 12 relevant Philippine Native Fruit Bearing Tree Species and 600 indigenous Philippine organic vegetable and root crop seeds, seedlings and cuttings – which were planted by the 8 of the local leaders and administrators of Marcelo H del Pilar National HS; 3 barangay/village members; 2 of the leading environmental students representing the High School’s student body; and families of the teachers attending the training, who could then bring home their new techniques for backyard, urban gardening.
The community leaders received a Training of Trainers experience outlining the benefits of sustainable Food Forests, organic produce tackling malnutrition and successful, low cost and climate smart BIG approaches in edible school based gardening. The school also received a complete set of new industrial strength gardening tools, including shovels, hand rakes, hand hoes, hand shovels, one solid heavy hoe digger, seedlings trays, watering sprays and cutters for pruning and managing their newly upgraded Food Forest.
Aside from the native Philippine vegetable cuttings and seedlings, a complete set of seeds was also donated to the community attending the training; and who helped install the Food Forest with the following indigenous Philippine fruit and vegetable trees: 2 Balitbitan, 2 Star Apples, 2 Kamias, 3 Guyabanos, 2 Kasoys, 2 Jackfruits, 2 Langkas (latexless).
Harvest Schedules – Native Vegetable Seeds/Cuttings by FEED Partner IIRR
AGROFORESTRY DEFINED & WHY IT MATTERS
In its most basic, agroforestry is defined as agriculture with trees. But it is so much more.
Agroforestry is the interaction of agriculture and trees, including the agricultural use of trees. This includes trees on farms and in agricultural landscapes, farming in forests and along forest margins and tree-crop production, including cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm. Interactions between trees and other components of agriculture may be important at a range of scales: in fields (where trees and crops are grown together), on farms (where trees may provide fodder for livestock, fuel, food, shelter or income from products including timber) and landscapes (where agricultural and forest land uses combine in determining the provision of ecosystem services).
At national and global scales, forestry and agriculture interact ecologically and through policies relating to land use and trade, and are important with respect to climate change and other environmental concerns. Agroforestry embraces an agro-ecological approach, putting emphasis on multi-functionality and the management of complex systems and polycultures rather than focusing exclusively on monoculture.
We use the word ‘tree’ inclusively, to refer to trees and shrubs, all woody perennials, palms and bamboo. We also use the word ‘agriculture’, inclusively, to refer to a human activity, carried out primarily to produce food, fibre and fuel by the deliberate and controlled use of plants and animals.
Why is agroforestry valuable?
There is nothing better than a tree to simultaneously:
- Sequester carbon from the atmosphere
- Bring up water and nutrients from depth
- Provide a framework for above- and below-ground biodiversity to flourish
- Build up soil organic matter and thus soil carbon – Offer new farm diversification enterprises
- Make agricultural landscapes more resilient
- Record climate history
Agroforestry involves a wide range of trees that are protected, regenerated, planted or managed in agricultural landscapes as they interact with annual crops, livestock, wildlife and humans. Trees essentially provide two things: products and services. Tree products include fruit, nuts, oils, beverages, gums, resins, latex, flavours, leaves for food and nutrition, fodder for livestock, timber, fuel wood and biomass for energy production, and medicines that treat disease.
Besides products, trees also provide services such as hosting edible insects, serving as bee habitats for pollination, providing shelter from wind and sun, modifying micro-climates, nitrogen fixation, erosion control, refugia for biodiversity, and better regulation of water, including groundwater recharge. Trees are fundamental for land regeneration.
Cultural values and symbolic functions have been attributed to trees; in some communities particular trees have a sacred status, are used in cultural rituals and play a central role in stories and myths. Trees have also been used as land boundary markers and to confer land use rights even if not full ownership of land.
To derive the best value from agroforestry interventions, it is considered best to design and implement research for development which acknowledges that we are dealing with complex adaptive systems. This requires research to be embedded within development investments and interventions that are prepared to ‘learn as they do’, in order to speed up adaptation and lower the risks of failure. The results are better development investments and improved responsiveness on the parts of practitioners and implementers alike.
VEGETABLE GARDEN IN SCHOOL PROJECT: The Cavite, Philippines’ Experience for Enhancing Nutrition and Agro-biodiversity
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 together with the Bio-intensive gardening technology to also address problems earlier identified as hindering the effective introduction and maintenance of school gardens.
The school based gardens aimed to contribute to food security and nutritional needs of school children; strengthen their appreciation and skills in agriculture and the environment; upgrade their parent’s knowledge in nutrition and agriculture, help conserve agro biodiversity of nutritional importance and eventually enhance transgenerational learning about the role of vegetable in family nutrition and health .
The GPP now adopts the Bio-intensive Gardening (BIG) technology popularized by the IIRR in the mid-80s and has been hailed in the country and development partners like UNICEF as an effective way to address malnutrition among children. Two decades later, BIG is still widely practiced not only in the southern part of the country where it was pioneered but in other parts of the Philippines as well. This time IIRR is emphasizing a heavier reliance on easily available fertilizer resources and primarily local seeds. However, the major reason for the revival of this initiative was the emerging enabling policy framework within DepEd in the Philippines.
School gardens were introduced to around 3,000 children and in 2010 a partnership was forged with Department of Education (DepEd) in Cavite to formally introduce the BIG technology and enhance the school feeding programs in the province.
THANK YOU TIDES; ONE CHILD, ONE TREE; and Marcelo H Del Pilar!
Thank you TIDES FOUNDATION & Marcelo H del Pilar and leading members of the community who received and enabled the training, with a special thanks to the One Child, One Tree SALI family, initiatiated by the OCOT Founder & FEED Ambassador Natalia Sali, for all your due diligence in ensuring the proper selection of a suitable school with the established leadership to carry this successful training out!
About Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School
Marcelo H. del Pilar National High School is the largest secondary school in Central Luzon in terms of population. It has an average population of 7000 students and 250 teachers. MHPNHS is one of the oldest secondary schools in the Philippines established in 1905. It offers the three curricula endorsed by the Department of Education: the Engineering and Science Education Program, the Basic Education Curriculum and the Special Program for Sports. The academic year 2010–2011 pioneers the revised curriculum of the Basic Education Curriculum and changed to Secondary Education Curriculum for freshman students.
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.
Tree-Planting with FEED (Video)
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: https://youtu.be/KROn4rjVqBg
© Fostering Education & Environment for Development, Inc.