In the Philippine metropolis arena where spaces are understood to be offered to real estate projects, business process outsourcing (BPO) opportunities, and information technology (IT) ventures, it is unlikely to advocate agriculture as a way of solving malnutrition and poverty.

However in Quezon City, Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte found a way to maximize what is left from development projects to help feed the hungry with not just food but with nutritious vegetables.

Four years into implementation, the Joy of Urban Gardening teaches Quezon City residents ways and means to plant in a limited space in the backyard, on top of the house, and even between the house wall and a tree trunk.

A visit at the demo farm within the Quezon City Memorial Circle helped me understand how simple it is use the soda drink bottles and hollow blocks to start a backyard garden. With the help of Tina Perez, project’s technical staff, we were able to grasp why other local government units are including the demo farm as their destination during visits.

An interested community unit- family, school, parish, informal settler, health department, etc- receives free training on making organic fertilizer from kitchen waste and creating pesticides, seeds and seedlings, gardening tools,  and other green house essentials.

According to Perez, they monitor communities that availed of the free package. She narrated that in some barangays, the produces are being used as food for safety patrol volunteers.

As of now, there are 104 sites of the project across the city, far from the original 20 plus sites. To boost the project, they run a contest to give recognition to properly-cared gardens.
When asked about the primary challenges why the concept of urban gardening is still a challenge to implement, Perez revealed that the number problem is the lack of space in the city. She said the project trains people to set up vertical gardens as a solution.

She also noted that rat parasites and thefts from the neighborhood are among what is holding back residents from pushing through with a backyard garden.

Upon the early success of Joy of Urban Gardening, the Agriculture (DA), Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and Social Welfare Development (DSWD) departments have poured in financial support to make sure more residents benefit from the project.

Given that it is still a project of an elected official, it is with high hopes that whoever takes the post will continue advocating urban gardening in Quezon City.

In case the project will not be revived, I hope residents of Quezon City have already been educated so they will still continue with their backyard gardening despite other priorities of the government.