Six months ago, ESSA Iloilo City Cluster and Brgy Cochero began their partnership and efforts towards an urban gardening project. This project was meant to be a response to the food security issues brought about by the lockdown, and, in the longterm was meant to be a prototype for urban gardening programs in the rest of the city’s baranggays. While Cochero was chosen for the great challenge it represented (read earlier articles about the near-zero garden space), the cluster and participants worked hard together to find creative solutions to the difficulties the urban landscape presented. The first challenge was the lack of planting space. Inspired by the successes of cluster member Sue Gandana in her own home, the community replicated her system of growing edible plants out of recycled containers filled with quality soil. While Sue began the first of her many harvests out of here container garden, Brgy Cochero established a container garden of their own. The second challenge was to establish an mentality of sustainability in the participants, so that they would continue with the project even after the cluster had finished it’s training activities. This challenge was met on by Baranggay Captain Teresita Chua, who spurred her community members to expand the project, and was always the first to get her hands in the soil. The participants are now expanding the gardens weekly , taking time out of their own busy days to forward this advocacy of healthy food, and urban gardening. Their initiative is a testament to their inner conditioning, brought about by sessions led by the cluster members.
These past few months, the project has begun to bear it’s fruit in the form of fresh, organic food. The walls and railings surrounding the baranggay hall are lined with okra, pechay, alugbati, tomato and more, while the community garden is overflowing with kamote tops and kadyos plants. Inside the narrow alleys of the baranggay, little patches of green mark where the participants have established their own productive vegetable gardens. Aside from the communal garden which is built out of bamboo, all of Cochero’s vegetables have been grown out of recycled containers. This is an amazing example how the impulse of one person can inspire a baranggay. Soon we hope the impulse of one baranggay can inspire a whole city. There are many more projects on the way for the residents of Brgy Cochero, such as a seed library and waste management program. Yet looking at the produce that has been grown in a place where people once thought growing food was impossible, it already feels like the project has been a smashing success!
Please take a look at the photos to see the work that has been done at Brgy Cochero.