Project Urban GOLD “Urban-Gardening Organically, Living Dynamically” A complementary program of DepEd’s Gulayan sa Paaralan and Aide in the Learning Delivery of Organic Agriculture Competencies.
(by CARLO E. MEDRANO, Teacher II at Caanawan  3/15/2023)

The Project Urban-GOLD is in complementary with the DepEd’s Gulayan sa Paaralan and the School Inside a Garden programs which strengthen the integration of environmental education in the elementary and high school curriculum and sustain environmental consciousness and action among learners and the community, and instill in them the values of unity, teamwork, volunteerism, nationalism, and community service for environmental protection and conservation.
Project Urban-GOLD aims to enhance the availability of food at the household and community levels through home gardening and urban agriculture. As urban gardening promotes food production within the community which include small land farming in households, local community gardens, indoor and rooftop gardens, vertical farming, this Project Urban-GOLD encourages parents and students of Caanawan National High School to create their own vegetable garden at the comfort of their home. This activity can help in advancing food and nutritional security during and after the COVD-19 pandemic, while also strengthening the provisioning of nutritious foods thereby reducing the event of malnutrition, safe and free farm food to table and supports the campaign to help fight climate change as well.
Further, since the Philippines is known as an agricultural country, there is a need to promote the importance of agriculture among Filipino learners together with their parents and guardians. The Project Urban-GOLD addresses the following concerns: to engage the learners and their parents to establish their own home vegetable gardening which will give them safe, free and nutritious farm food to table; involve the young learners and their parents in organic farming by using self-produced compost and other organic amendments; and inculcate in them the importance and the impact of Agriculture for their families and community in meeting a partial food need.
Parents and students from Grade 11 and Grade 12 were engaged in the activity. For the school year 2021 and 2022, 229 out of the 495 learners in the senior high school were in the TVL Strand. They will be given proper orientation regarding the project such as the care and maintenance of the vegetable plants, preparation of organic fertilizer through composting and production of fermented plant and fruit juices. This is a year-round activity, and the proponent will monitor its progress, and will explain to the participating learners and parents the monthly submission of photo documentation of the planting activities and their outputs. More so, search for best home vegetable gardening will be facilitated in recognition for their participation and contribution to the greening program.
It was implemented on the 3rd quarter to the 4th quarter of this SY 2021-2022 participated by students in Grade 11 and Grade 12 along with their parents. The proponent initiated a virtual orientation program to discuss the procedure and techniques in maintaining a home vegetable gardening. Participating learners and parents chose their preferred area of vegetable garden, and its design, and kinds of vegetable that can be grown year-round. For care and maintenance, procedure in preparing their own organic fertilizer were also be catered. Documentation of farming activities shall be encouraged as part of the monitoring process. The produce and its amount will be recorded and documented prior to their consumption.
The Urban GOLD project provided a venue for both learners and parents to showcase their love of nature while securing a stable source of safe and healthy food. In the time of pandemic, where stress, burn out and mental health problem was a major issue, being close to nature if considered to be one of the most refreshing activity a person may have.
Evidently, the project has exceeded the expected outcome and have realized five aspects of the education in the new normal particularly (Figure 1):

The project has revamped OGP through its focus on organic agriculture and provision of technical assistance in the distance learning. To mitigate expenses and make the project cause effective, learners were encouraged to strictly follow organic gardening procedures wherein fertilizers and soil nutrients will be solely based from household yields or self-produced compost. 100% (229 TVL Learners) participation rate were achieved. 171 or 74.67% of the learners created their individual home gardens while the remaining 58 or 25.32% were under community home gardens where they cofunction to achieve the competencies.
The technical team has created video lessons incorporating the techniques for organic agriculture applicable for household gardens. The established gardens have also served as venue for the realization of work immersion competencies during the pandemic where distance learning was still in effect. The video lessons created were still in used today as strategies for blended learning when calamities and unprecedented disruption of regular face to face classes happen as evident in the new school innovation entitled “Project ViLLE”. A total of 12 authentic and contextualized video lessons were created that sufficed the competencies.
“Madami kaming natutunan pagdating sa pagaalaga ng mga gulay mula sa aming mga guro. Naging masigasig sila sa pagalalay sa amin at pagbibgiay ng “technical assistance” sa amin kaya naging produktibo at masaya ang aming karanasan”, a learner – participant said.
The project opened and tapped partnerships with school stakeholders amid the pandemic. Specifically, the project gained support from the Nueva Ecija Fruits and Vegetable Seeds Center and the local government unit of barangay Licaong, Science City of Muñoz and barangay Caanawan, San Jose City. In total, 30 seedlings of fruit bearing trees and ready to plant vegetable seeds worth 12,500.00 pesos were donated. This were allocated to the needing families.
As evident in the feedbacks given, the program also achieved its goal of providing a sustainable food source. The home gardens have been cost effective and efficient by using self-produced compost and other organic amendments. In fact, the program was awarded certificate of recognition as one of the “successful advocacies that help makes a difference in the lives of the people in these challenging pandemic times.”
Lastly, one of the unforeseen but remarkable accomplishments of the project was the provision of extracurricular activities to learners who have been cited to experience mental health issues due to the long isolation periods brought by the pandemic. “Nagkaroon ng ibang pagkakaabalahan ang aking anak liban sa pagaaral. Natuwa ako dahil sa dami ng aming naani ay talagang napakinabangan naming ito at naibahagi pa sa aming mga kapitbahay”, a parent said.

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