Bluestone Adds Food to Forest for Community-Support in Sierra Madres

28 July 2023, Laguna Quezon Land Grant, Siniloan, Laguna.  On the 28th of July 2023, Bluestone completed their sponsorship and planting of their first “food forest”, expanding the existing perennial native vegetable garden installed during the pandemic – at the Laguna Quezon Land Grant (LQLG) in Siniloan, Laguna, where hundreds of Bluestone participants had already planted several mini forests prior (see related articles below).

Bluestone also purchased 3 shovels and nursery trays for LQLG to enable more forest guards and community members to manage and maintain the perennial vegetable garden, from which they are not only able to harvest food but also continue to propagate from natural and healthy crop harvests that are able to deliver more seeds.

The 1,350 native Philippine vegetable seeds and cuttings – including, a.o.: Paayap (black-eyed pea/ cowpea), Sigarilyas (winged bean), Alugbati Malabar spinach), Kamoteng Kahoy (sweet potato) –  were sourced from the International Institute for Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) based in Silang, Cavit, which produces low cost Philippine native seeds and cuttings of high nutrition value. For over 63 years to date, IIRR has aimed to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture particularly amongst the most marginalized communities around the world, especially “smallholder farmers, fishermen, pastoralists, Indigenous peoples and forest dependent communities that rely on minimal resources to survive”. (Source:

The Bio-Intensive Garden was chosen by Bluestone to help Barangay Maunlad in Siniloan (where LQLG is based) and surrounding villages of LQLG, to tackle Food Security, Nutrition and Agriculture, to address address malnutrition and sustainable production of food chains by expanding and diversifying the site’s existing vegetable gardens, which in turn can produce more climate resilient native seeds from their harvest for surrounding villages.

Bluestone’s 8th environmental engagement activity with FEED was implemented by 10 out of  a much larger group of regularly active Bluestone Ecowarriors, who have been planting with FEED since February 2021.

The enthusiastic participants carried out nursery work by seeding propagation of crops that thrive better in early nursery growing (for protection against pests) prior to outplanting, such as chillies and native cherry tomatoes, as well as the planting of cuttings in the garden itself, done with much fun and laughter despite the drizzling skies typical of the Sierra Madres during this rainy season.

After the planting of the vegetable garden, we proceeded to the central nursery where the 70 varieties of Philippine forest trees are propagated, then trailed through the pandemic installed vegetable garden that the guards already manage for their daily sustenance (to see what Bluestone’s efforts would look like in a year).   On the way to the nursery, the participants noticed the large flowering katmon tree (Dillenia philippinensis, whose fruit is known as “elephant apple”), endemic to the Philippines and often used for urban greening.

Interestingly, “katmon fruits are quite fleshy, eaten when green and have a taste similar to green sour apples. The fresh fruit is not especially flavorful, but due to its acidity and juiciness, it is refreshing when eaten. It makes an excellent sauce or jam and is also used for flavoring. For example, it may be added to pinakbet (a traditional Philippine vegetable and pork dish) or sinigang (traditional Philippine fish, pork or vegetable sour soup) as a souring ingredient. Locals are also known to mix the acidic fruit juice with sugar into a drink taken to treat coughs and fevers, and the young leaves or bark may be pounded into a paste applied to wounds or swellings.” (Source: Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity,

We then trailed back to base camp through the bambusetum before returning to base camp, freshening up and enjoying the community prepared Binalot (banana leaf wrapped) chicken adobo with rice and banana and double yolked organic eggs boodle fight set-up to restore everyone’s energy levels.

The meals were prepared by the local community members, who are also trained to establish nurseries, collect wildlings, site prepare, plant and monitor during their free time to earn extra income.

It was evident from their smiles and hard work, that Bluestone was grateful to be part of the SEEDing program FEED encourages in all its community-based Ridge to REEForestation climate change action programs, to ensure accessibility of affordable and reliable, sustainable seeds for neighbouring communities, which during the pandemic was severely affected, as the Philippine Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI)‘s attention is often heavily focused on disaster stricken areas affected by annual (super)typhoons typical to the Philippines year-round.

Thank you Bluestone for continuing your environmental and community advocacies, with special mention to Bluestone leadership Kerry Sheehan (Chief Risk Officer – APAC) and Binal Shah (Interim Head of Risk and Compliance).  “We’re not just a company, we’re a community! Inside and outside of the office, we strive to make a positive impact on the world around us.” – BLUESTONE

May the Forest be with you all, always!

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About Bluestone “Our Story”

Bluestone is a fast-growing lender specialising in residential home loans. We have a team of over 275 professionals across Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. Bluestone started out as an Australian lender headquartered in Sydney in 2000. We manage over A$10bn in home loans for our Australian and New Zealand customers and have helped over 48,000 Aussies and 11,500 Kiwis with home loans that fit a wide range of circumstances.

Bluestone helps people with a variety of financial needs, whether they are looking to refinance, purchase homes or invest in residential property. Our solutions are popular not only with PAYG borrowers, but also self-employed borrowers who require alternative ways to prove their income, and residential property investors with complicated income streams.

The circumstances and needs of our customers are diverse – for example, some have a clear credit history and others have had a few financial hiccups. That’s why we have done away with credit scores and instead ask questions to better understand each unique situation. By assessing every application on a case-by-case basis, we can build a more accurate picture of personal circumstance and match home loans to different lifestyle needs.

On Carbon Sequestration – How Much CO2 can our trees absorb?

Trees are often referred to as the “lungs of the Earth” as they are able to store carbon and produce oxygen, which is essential to many life forms. Trees also stabilise soil and reduce air temperature and humidity, whilst also reducing flooding and improving water quality. Without trees, most fauna and flora would not survive, what more humans?

It is widely accepted that a typical tree can absorb around 22 kilograms of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year when in fully grown status, meaning that saplings, seedlings and younger trees – whether mangroves or primary or secondary forest trees – absorb around half, so conservatively say 11 kgs per year (also widely used by most international forestry agencies around the world).

So, over a lifetime of a tropical tree (100 years), one tree can absorb around 1 tonne of CO2. Although this figure seems large, it should be measured in perspective: to date we humans generate around 40 billions tonnes of CO2 each year on Earth. Which means, that we need to plant 40 billion trees annually to offset these emissions.

NATURE IS SPEAKING (Narrated by Julia Roberts)

What can I do to stop climate change?

“As the world warms, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense, sea levels are rising, prolonged droughts are putting pressure on food crops, and many animal and plant species are being driven to extinction. It’s hard to imagine what we as individuals can do to resolve a problem of this scale and severity.

The good news: We are not alone. People, communities, cities, businesses, schools, faith groups and other organizations are taking action. We’re fighting like our lives depend on it — because they do.

In a world of more than seven billion people, each of us is a drop in the bucket. But with enough drops, we can fill any bucket.” –  David Suzuki

Check out some of the ways you can take more climate change action.

For example, Climate Action groups are the local solution to a global crisis. Right now people just like you are coming together to develop practical, local solutions and make their towns and cities more climate-friendly. Are you ready to join them? Find out what’s happening near you.

More here:


Contact FEED

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

Tree-Planting with FEED

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

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