Landscaping with Learning and Feeding: The “Edible Landscaping” Experience of Pila, Laguna

Transforming a traditional garden into an elegant garden serving as a living laboratory is made possible in Labuin Elementary School (LES) in Pila, Laguna through “edible landscaping.” 

LES is one of the six participating schools in Laguna introduced to the growing of organic vegetables, fruits, herbs, and medicinal plants through edible landscaping (EL). 

In 2016, the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and Department of Education (DepEd) conducted the preliminary phase for the project, A Participatory Action Research on School- and Community-based Food and Nutrition Program for Literacy, Poverty Reduction and Sustainable Development. Six schools (five elementary and one secondary) in Laguna were selected to participate.  

Part of the preliminary phase was the conduct of a series of seminars and workshops to capacitate teachers on the concepts and principles of sustainable, ecological, and organic agriculture, edible landscaping, nutrition, and climate change adaptation and mitigation. 

Michelle R. Samia, Master Teacher 1 and coordinator of School Plus Home Garden Project was fascinated to transform the traditional garden Gulayan sa Paaralan into a beautiful school garden in LES. She had envisioned a garden that could attract students to learn the value of farming (for simple planting vegetables and for sustainable source of food), also giving emphasis on the improvement of their health conditions. Being a passionate teacher and caring for her students’ academic and health improvement equipped with her learnings on the workshops and seminars she attended, she came up with a design for the proposed school garden for the next phase of the project together with the Provincial Government of Laguna. 

In the conduct of the School Plus Home Garden Project in LES, Samia recorded the ‘Distribution of Harvest’ as well as the ‘Nutritional Status Report of LES’ to be used as baseline data for SY 2017-2018. These data were used by LES in the conduct of feeding program in 2018-2019. 

Some of the remarkable accomplishments in the implementation of School Plus Home Garden Project in LES, namely: the transformation of the traditional garden into a beautifully designed school garden that served as the living laboratory for classes in Science, Math, English and EPP (Edukasyong Pangtahanan at Pangkabuhayan); high demonstration of active student participation in class with minimal absenteeism; and feeding program for the malnourished students in LES (from harvested vegetables) that has demonstratively improved health conditions of 120 pupils, of which 7 were wasted (2 male and 5 female). 

With the successful implementation of School Plus Home Garden in LES, LES was acknowledged as the Most Outstanding Partner School, which contributed significantly to the diversity and availability of food in the school and local community, and enhanced the knowledge and skills of students, their parents and teachers on sustainable food production and nutrition. LES also received awards locally (for Best in Local Government Unit Partnership, and Best in Community Extension) and internationally (3rd Place SEAMEO-ESD Japan Award 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand and Best Policy Commitment SEAMEO RECFON AWARD 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia). ###