The Quezon City government envisions transforming 30 hectares of unused urban areas into vegetable gardens.
“This is a pilot activity (of the “Buhay sa Gulay” project) that we have started in January in partnership with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) and with assistance from the national government,” Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) during their first harvest festival in New Greenland, Bagong Silangan on Thursday.
The total area that will be converted into agricultural land in the New Greenland farm spans seven hectares with more than 100 farmers growing crops.
Belmonte said for now, they have only used about two hectares of the total area.
Authorities said the urban vegetable farm, dubbed as “Luntiang Paraiso” (Green Paradise), is estimated to yield 700 kg. of assorted vegetables.
“The farm aspect is only the first phase of what we are planning. Soon, there will be a view deck here, a farm-to-table concept. The goal is making it a tourist destination,” she said, adding that they are eyeing to develop about 30 hectares of land in various parts of Quezon City.
The project is a brainchild of DAR Secretary John Castriciones as he bids to improve the lives of their agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARBs) by ensuring they have sufficient food for themselves and their family.
“This is so we can guarantee that our ARBs have food on the table, especially during this pandemic, in the same way that they can also make profit out of farming,” Castriciones said.
The Quezon City LGU pledged to maintain its partnership with DAR and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to continually monitor and facilitate the progress of the project.
Quezon City Food Security Task Force co-chair Emmanuel Hugh Velasco said the city would continue its support to the farmers by providing them with inputs and training in using agro-technology and pest management.
“There are other lot owners who are showing interest in developing their lands into urban farms. New Greenland has become a model and we want to continue the partnership with our stakeholders so that we can replicate this in other potential urban farms,” Velasco added.
He said the farmers are being trained to become a cooperative so that it would be easier for the city to link them to regular markets.
Aside from these, the city, with the help of DAR and DA, is working on putting up a modern irrigation system in the farm and other infrastructure projects that will further boost their productivity and income.
Once the seven-hectare farm is fully utilized, it is expected to produce 765 metric tons (MT) of vegetables, including 29.7 MT of eggplant, 0.7 MT of sitao (string beans), 350 MT of pechay, 280 MT of mustasa, 25 MT of squash, 80 MT of okra, and 20 of MT ampalaya (bitter melon), every year, he said.
The “Buhay sa Gulay” program aims to further promote the importance of urban farming and empower urban dwellers to have an alternative source of income by producing and selling fresh vegetables. (PNA)