Press Release
April 28, 2021

Villar: Community Gardens Can Sustain Neighborhoods With or Without Pandemic; Can Complement Community Pantries

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food, renews her call for people to grow their own food in their own backyard or in a community garden in the light of the popularity of community pantries being set up in the country.

"Community gardens are a more sustainable and cost-effective way of providing daily supply of food or substance to community members, especially in poor neighborhoods. They only need vegetable seeds, seedlings of fruit-bearing trees, organic fertilizers and a small parcel of lot from a backyard or open spaces of subdivisions in a public place which some LGUs can even allocate for them," said Villar.

The senator has been advocating urban farming or vegetable gardening. She has initiated the distribution of vegetable seeds and organic fertilizers, initially in her home city of Las Pinas, and now all over the country. Through Villar SIPAG, she also distributes organic fertilizer to gardeners and farmers all over the country. The fertilizers are from her kitchen and garden wastes composting facilities.

As of latest count, they have distributed seeds and organic fertilizers to three hundred eight (308) towns and cities in the Philippines. On top of this, nearly 2,019 individuals have received seed packets for their own home vegetable gardens. These are available all year round.

In fact, to encourage city dwellers to do urban gardening, she has a yearly urban gardening competition. It is the highlight of the yearly Las Pinas Food Festival that started in 2011, it will be held on April 29 this year. The participants are the 20 barangays of the city, homeowners' associations, and public schools. Cash prize of PhP55,000 per category is given to the winning urban gardens, which are judged based on community efforts/involvement, creativity/innovation, presentation and theme/concept.

"I am glad that during the pandemic when community quarantines are imposed, Filipinos had a better appreciation of the value of growing one's food. It solves many interlinked problems besides daily sustenance of families with nutritious food. It provides livelihood, solves poverty-linked hunger and malnutrition, easy access to food when supplies are lacking or limited and ultimately it will ensure food security," said Villar.

Villar also authored and filed Senate Bill No. 141, which seeks institutionalize urban agriculture in the country to meet food sufficiency targets and address hunger.

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