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Cemetery’s vegetable garden inspires town to go organic.

November 2, 2014

TALAVERA, Nueva Ecija—A public cemetery in Barangay (village) Poblacion here has become the launch pad of this town’s biggest nutrition program anchored on organic vegetable farming.

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VACANT lots in this cemetery in Talavera town,Nueva Ecija province, showcase the productivity of the local soil for organic farming, the flagship nutrition project of the town government. ARMAND GALANG/ INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

Vegetable gardens can be seen in the town’s barangay hall compounds, road shoulders, school campuses and backyards, thanks to a project that started in plots on vacant lots of Himlayan ng Bayanover a year ago.

“We found out that our soil is fertile enough to produce quality vegetables such as string beans, eggplants, tomatoes and papaya,” said Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez.

The vegetable garden in the public cemetery is overseen by Martinez’s father, former mayor and now municipal administrator Nerito Santos.

Santos has been entertaining visitors, particularly village and education officials, at a corner of the cemetery to demonstrate the farming program. He also prepares lunch from the harvests for visitors.

Santos said visitors could also take out tomato candies produced from the garden.

The project soon gave birth to the Gulayan sa Barangay, Paaralan at Bakuran program of Talavera town.

In Barangay Bulac, no resident has gone hungry because anyone can harvest vegetables from backyards or public gardens, village chief Dante Al Fernandez said.

“It seems that hunger has been banned in our village because we have an abundant supply of vegetables and people here harvest palay,”he said.

Fernandez said Bulac residents planted eggplants, okra, tomato, upo (bottle gourd), patola (luffa), onion and string beans. Malunggay trees are also planted along barangay roads.

Churchgoers in an adjacent chapel would pass through a concrete pathway lined with vegetables. The compound is also planted to tomatoes, eggplants and beans.

Fernandez said excess harvests were sold by residents so they could use the money for other household needs.

In Barangay San Pascual, an 800-square-meter vacant lot has become a steady source of food for victims of recent typhoons who have sought refuge in a local gymnasium, village chief Gerald Fermin said.

Residents harvest vegetables like pepper, string beans, ampalaya (bitter gourd), papaya and pechay from the lot.

The 400-sqm backyard of Gloria Domingo in Barangay Pulong San Miguel is not far behind as at least 21 kinds of trees and vegetables are grown there using organic fertilizer.

Aside from vegetables growing in recycled plastic containers and sacks, Domingo’s backyard is also planted to chico, banana, pomelo, rambutan, lemon, guyabano, guava, calamansi and alibangbang.

Even the compound of Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology-Municipal Government of Talavera teems with vegetables.

Martinez said the town government launched the program to instill in people, including the youth, the value of using resources and health.

She has observed that residents would plant vegetables in places not covered by the program. “It’s a positive sign,” she said.

“You cannot do anything if you are not healthy. So we should prioritize our people’s health and all others will follow,”she said.  (Armand Galang)

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