Who would’ve thought that a simple endeavour would cause ripples of inspiration in the community? That’s exactly what happened to the Sta. Maria Small Farmers Association in Zamboanga del Norte. Their endeavours in their communal Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG) have brought about many other projects with various partner-stakeholders that would benefit not just Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries but also those poor families that are not covered by the program.
The establishment of BIG in the area was identified as an approach to poverty alleviation under BUB project in 2013. The objective of this initiative was to help Pantawid Pamilya household beneficiaries augment their income through vegetable gardening and merchandise. This also ensures that the daily consumption of the beneficiaries of the program is nutritional and organic. This BUB project was approved in 2014 under DOLE program and services.
Pantawid Pamilya and Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) joined hands in organizing the group that would supervise and monitor the progress of the project. 25 household beneficiaries committed to devote their time and energy in cultivating the communal garden.
In partnership with the Local Government Unit, the Municipal Agriculture Office conducted a Capability-Building training to the members of the organization to enhance their level of awareness and knowledge on bio-intensive gardening and capacitate them on their specific roles and functions as members of the organization. Furthermore, DOLE assisted the organization through provision of gardening tools including cash assistance as start-up capital on their communal gardening.
Every Tuesday, the group convenes to discuss issues and concerns that affect their project. The dedication and perseverance of the group paid off as they were recognized as model project for Convergence Initiative of the convergence strategy. Based on the Social Welfare and Development Indicators, the communal gardening has addressed many issues particularly on food, malnutrition, extra income, and literacy concerns of the beneficiaries.
As of the recent update, the group was able to expand their communal garden to a wider area within the barangay. The fruit of their labour has sprouted inspiration to partner-stakeholders and encouraged them to be part of the project.
Child Fund thru Xaesfi project, an NGO that supports poverty alleviation by providing sponsorships to certain causes, has recently partnered with Sta. Maria Small Farmers Association in their gardening efforts. Moreover, the Barangay Officials are now involved in the project in line with their endeavour to eradicate malnutrition in their area.
The association gains attention from partners as they stand firm on the purpose of their project. They continue to receive support and assistance from various stakeholders which gives them even more inspiration to persevere and continue the cultivation of vegetables and fruits thru Bio-Intensive Gardening.
Bookkeeping of the Sta. Maria Small Farmers Association
Actual vegetable planting
Meeting on the involvement of BLGU in the gardening
Supplemental Feeding sponsored by BIG partnership