Feature: Growing tomatoes, earning funds and building communities
Red, shiny and mouth-watering. These are just simple words to describe the fruit of this community - TOMATOES. These are planted and nourished with love and cooperation by residents and parent-beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program of Barangay Caluangan in this municipality.
Through their own initiative and guidance of the DSWD-Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program staff assigned in the area, these parents are able to establish a community garden to call their own. Although it started as a simple community project, it now serves not only as a source of additional income for members but also as a conveyor of happiness and a means of strengthening support.
Being beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program, people are encouraged to engage themselves in community activities such as tree planting and backyard gardening. For the grantees in Barangay Caluangan, a community garden came to mind.
According to Lady Lee Palinlin, municipal link of Magallanes, their objectives were to encourage cooperation among members of the parent group and to give members an extra source of income.
Although the desire for the project was there, starting a community garden is not as easy. They may have more than enough manpower among all members, but unfortunately, they did not have funds as well as land.
Starting the garden using their own money was out of the question since the community project was conceived for the group to develop funds and not to spend some. Hence, they thought of a way to get their starting capital. They looked for scraps like plastic bottles and papers and sold them to junk shops.
They visited one house after another in the barangay to gather household junks and turned them into money that will start a community project that can change the lives of Pantawid beneficiaries in the area. With enough money accumulated, they are able to buy tomato seedlings for their community gardening project. At this point, one problem is addressed and so there is only the lot left.
A good Samaritan, as the Pantawid beneficiaries would like to call him, offered a piece of land that is big enough to accommodate their vegetable garden. The soil is of good quality and the area receives enough sunlight and is close to a water supply. Through this good Samaritan, they have found the perfect place where their community garden will thrive.
With things they have in hand already, the cooperation among them continued. Every member took part in small yet important components in the project. Some of them shoveled the plots, others planted the seeds, and the rest watered them.
The fruits of their labor were visible not long after. They started with harvesting tomatoes and sold them. Though they give part of the harvest to the owner of the lot, they still have enough to sustain the project. They were able to build fences around the garden to secure the plots as well as give them peace of mind from people who may steal the crop and from animals that can destroy the vegetables. The money used to fund the fencing came from money earned from harvest.
To date, the community garden is now self-sufficient. The Pantawid beneficiaries are able to use their income from the garden to buy fertilizers and other seedlings for the operation of their project.
The community garden may have just started as a project encouraged by the DSWD through the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to provide them with a cash subsidy for the education and health needs of their children. But today, they consider this project as a venue that created a good relationship among them. Through this project, they consider themselves not just mere neighbors today but as one family in Barangay Caluangan.
For the Pantawid beneficiaries in Barangay Caluangan, this community gardening project has brought more than just extra income to them. It has made them more united as a community. Moreover, through this project, parent beneficiaries have developed a sense of responsibility, one priority of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program to be instilled to grantees to teach them to be more productive and responsive in meeting family needs. According to the beneficiaries, this project has made them use their time more effectively.
Although tomatoes are simple crops, for most of the parent-beneficiaries in Barangay Calauangan, these are fruits of their community works that symbolized the start of a better life, especially that of their children. (Noemee Jane Mayor, Regional Information Office, DSWD4A/CPG, PIA4A)
Number of Comments: 0