The 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 as the year of fruits and vegetables. That said, raising awareness on the nutritional and health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption ties in with a lot of PSFI’s programs.

Being health conscious in the year of fruits and vegetables seems to come naturally. With VeggiEskwela, PSFI and the communities in Tacloban managed to grow something good at an unprecedented time of uncertainty.

In June 2020, various schools and community members from different barangays participated in PSFI’s program VeggiEskwela Tacloban. It intended to mobilize teachers and the community in general to successfully implement their respective gulayan projects: Gulayan sa Paaralan, and Gulayan sa Barangay.

While the gulayan projects had the goal to eventually grow edible and healthy vegetables for their barangays, VeggiEskwela aimed to help the community grow their greens by providing a series of training events focused on vegetable garden development and production.

The project established 10 communal gardens for VeggiEskwela: 5 of which are school-based and another 5 which are community-based. Agriculturist Trainers / Facilitators were present to ensure the quality of the program. They gave advice on growing the crops, exhibited actual demonstrations, and ensured that the participants followed their training accordingly.

The program was met with enthusiasm from the community as well. A total of 189 people actively participated in VeggiEskwela Tacloban, attending training, and tending to the vegetables. 118 members worked on school gardens, while the other 71 exerted their efforts on the community gardens.

Despite the challenges brought upon by COVID-19, VeggiEskwela Tacloban achieved all the objectives it was meant to conquer.

Over months consisting of training and giving their attention on their vegetable crops, the community managed to grow considerably plentiful produce. The communal gardens successfully generated a combined harvest of 704 kilos of vegetables since November 2020 until January 2021 to be shared by the barangays in Tacloban.

A post-project implementation review revealed that the program had exceeded the expectations of the beneficiaries. It also noted that the series of training were well received by the participants, while the presence of the Agriculturist Trainer / Facilitator was also praised as a key role in educating the community in vegetable cultivation and related skills.

Following the success of VeggiEskwela, the establishment of the Gulayamanan Project immediately followed, aiming to enable effective establishment of cluster vegetable gardens in the area. Beneficiaries have been oriented last May 2, 2021 to lay out its ways forward. Apart from its nutrition and food security component, the project also aims to improve livelihood sustainability through the formation of a cooperative association.

The project, in partnership with East West Seed Foundation, Tacloban City LGU, and Tacloban City Business Club is targeting 50 beneficiaries representing different households in North Kawayan Ville, Tacloban City.

Months into 2021, the importance of health and nutrition cannot be understated. To make the year of fruits and vegetables as fruitful as possible, people all over the world must apply both education and action. Achieving progress for health and the environment, VeggiEskwela is proof that working together is important in creating progress in the future as a community, if not as a country.

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