HER vision sounds simple but difficult to realize: build a community that embraces urban gardening.

Herminia P. Posadas, 64, a retired teacher and a Lunhaw 2019 awardee, spends most of her time in urban gardening.

“Even before I retired, I’ve been very active in gardening in our school. When I was a child, I was trained to plant vegetables and plants in our backyard,” she said.

A resident of St. Vincent Heights Subdivision, Barangay Alfonso Angliongto, Posadas has her own 50-square-meter urban garden in her backyard.

She grows eggplants, tomatoes, celery, kale, eucalyptus, and peppermint, among others. She is currently making her small fish pond and plans to put catfish and red tilapia in it.

She shared the vegetables that she is growing are consumed by their family daily.

“I don’t usually have a big income from my vegetables because we consume it but for seedlings, I earned an average of P3,000 per month, enough money to augment my monthly pension,” she said.

Her usual customers are her neighbors and parents from the school. Her house is located just behind a school.

Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan

Posadas is just one of the 136 farmers who graduated from SM Foundation – Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Rural and Urban Farmers Training Program on October 11, 2019 at SM City Davao.

The 12-week urban gardening training focuses on farming in urban setting and values formation; farmer entrepreneurship; supermarket tours; agro-ecosystem analysis, financial literacy, sustainability; and Tatang’s 14 life principles. Tatang refers to the late SM founder Henry Sy Sr.

The 136 participants are composed of small scale farmers, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) – 4Ps beneficiaries and vulnerable groups, senior citizens, and teachers assigned on their school’s Gulayan sa Paaralan program.

On October 10, the participants had their harvest festival, the last session of their training. The whole day event highlights the harvesting of crops, special presentations, social dances, fun games for the participants, and a salu-salo which were sourced from their demo farms.

The crops that were harvested included ampalaya, lettuce, pechay, tomato, eggplant, okra, tomatoes, mustasa, sili, labanos, cucumber, and other vegetables that are viable in urban garden settings.

To date, there are a total of 19,722 graduates in 2,761 barangays in 708 towns nationwide since the program began in 2006.

Lessons from KSK

Posadas was grateful for being part of 2019 batch of KSK. For her, the training has provided her with a load of new knowledge on urban farming that is helpful for her advocacy.

“I learned a lot especially when it comes to organic farming from seeds to harvesting. We were also taught on how to become better farmer entrepreneurs,” she said.

But she emphasized that what she wanted to pursue more is the composting of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) farming.

She explained that approach in farming uses BSF larvae that will eat kilograms of waste a night in small composting units – nature’s own food recyclers which makes it a perfect composting solution.

BSF are good animal feeds especially for aquaculture and poultry.

As someone who has been conducting demo farming seminars around Davao City, Posadas said she will go on sharing the lessons she learned from her recent training.

“I usually do demo’s on basic composting. I usually do it for free, but sometimes barangays gave me honorarium. But I don’t mind doing it for free. For as long as I can, I will push for urban gardening and share it to the community for them to also embrace it,” she said.

Posadas underscored that her wish is to increase the population of Filipinos who will engage into urban gardening as one solution for food security threats.