CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Survivors of Typhoon “Sendong,” challenged to transform the December 16, 2011 tragedy into an opportunity and chart their families’ journey to a new life, actively participated in the hands-on training on urban container gardening (UCG) at the covered court of the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary here.
At least 60 survivors from Barangays Iponan, Bonbon, Indahag, Macasandig and Carmen spent all day on Wednesday learning how to grow vegetables using discarded recyclable materials, such as plastic water containers and household waste, under UCG’s developer and expert Perfecto “Jojo” Rom Jr.
Organized by the Balay Mindanaw Foundation Inc.’s Disaster Response, Risk Reduction Management and Resiliency Building team in partnership with the Katilingbanong Pamahandi sa Mindanaw Foundation Inc., the one-day UCG training was BMFI’s ways of “pulling the bull by its horns” in fast tracking the recovery of those devastated by Sendong.
It also gave the survivors the opportunity to “think out of the box” in growing their own food to feed their families, as well as develop sources of livelihood from discarded and recyclable materials such as tetra packs.
Tetra packs and plastic water containers are ideal “pots,” for growing vegetables since they are abundant and often discarded by restaurants and eateries.
Tetra packs from different juice manufacturers are sewn together to make “tetra pots” which then can be used as pots for growing vegetables.
Those who cannot garden can still earn from UCG practitioners by going into the production of “tetra pots” which they can then sell to those who are actively engaged in UCG.
Rom taught the participants how to grow seedlings, transplanting and the correct ratio of mixing growing medium from topsoil, rice hull, powdered charcoal, coco peat and chicken dung. He also taught them how to make growing pots from discarded plastic water containers; how to make and prepare liquid fertilizer using one’s own urine, fermented rice wash and other resources.
UCG is an ideal and nutritious way of growing one’s own vegetables and spices since it does not require much space or land and most of the materials used are found in households. In fact, fertilizers used in UCG are developed in the household using biodegradable waste, such as rice wash, fish gills, fruits and vegetable peelings.
Those who have enough space can also go into vermi-composting.
Aside from learning from the expert about UCG, the survivors also learned organic ways of making fertilizer, foliar, pesticide. They also learned from Rom how to make a non-smelly barrel compost that does not attract flies.
The survivors were very attentive, taking all in what Rom was teaching them from his own experience in developing UCG.
After the training, Fr. Raul Dael said the leadership of the SJVTS has decided to allocate a portion of the seminary’s lot for UCG for the benefit of the survivors who are temporarily sheltered there.