“WE ARE not giving them fish, we are teaching them how to fish.”
This is the philosophy behind the Archdiocese of Cebu’s campaign to promote backyard gardening in some parishes amid the ongoing coronavirus disease crisis.
Fr. Charles Jayme, the Archdiocese’s head of Relief and Rehabilitation, told SunStar Cebu that through this initiative, they will be able to help the parishioners get by.
He believes that teaching parishioners to grow their own food is the best and most sustainable food relief measure that each household must avail itself of.
“The generous people have their limits and it may exhaust their capacity to give. For me, I see this as the best way to help,” Jayme said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
The Archdiocese has tapped the Department of Agriculture (DA) in the installation of materials for backyard gardening as well as getting quality seedlings.
In Mandaue City, the parishes that have started their gardening activities are San Roque Parish (Barangay Subangdaku), National Shrine of St. Joseph (Barangay Centro) and the Gethsemane Parish (Barangay Casuntingan).
The San Roque Parish in Barangay Mambaling, Cebu City is also taking the same steps.
During the interview, Jayme, a staff member from the Mandaue City Agriculture Office and some volunteer parishioners were busy installing the nursery in San Roque Parish.
There were also other volunteers who were segregating the dried leaves and plastics littered in the area.
Some of the dried leaves will be used for their compost pit that will serve as fertilizer.
The remaining leaves, on the other hand, will be mixed with garden soil to help the seedlings grow healthily.
Other parishioners are also cultivating the soil near a swamp to plant vines such as ampalaya (bitter gourd) and squash.
Before the Archdiocese’s project was launched, the San Roque Parish in Mandaue was already engaged in backyard gardening.
But with the initative, the parish and other members of the community decided to expand their garden by including a lot near the swamp and installing a nursery.
Vegetables like eggplants, tomatoes and okra will be grown in the nursery.
Jayme said that DA will provide them with the seeds or seedlings and garden soil.
The volunteers, on the other hand, will be assigned to take care of the plants before these are distributed to parishioners.
Jayme said all the chapel leaders will be invited to a seminar hosted by the DA to teach them how to properly grow the plants.
The chapel leaders will then relay the information to their community.
Jayme said they are promoting the “vertical” gardening system considering that there’s not enough space to grow plants in the urban areas of highly urbanized cities like Mandaue and Cebu.
Parishioners are encouraged to use recyclable materials such as tin cans or bottles as their plant pots.
Even after the pandemic, Jayme said these plants will continue to provide the community with food for a very long time.
Interested parishioners may also go to the identified nursery of the parishes to learn more about the initiative.
The seedlings are given at no cost to the parishioner.