March 18, 2020 - As global warming worsens and intensifies the present climate crisis, Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda said that national agencies, local governments, businesses, offices, industries, and households can establish edible landscapes and community gardens in order to help ensure food supply and ecosystem services, which are key thematic areas in the country's National Climate Change Action Plan.
Legarda said that community gardens and edible landscapes are spaces in urban and rural areas, as well as in households, that have been transformed to fruit and vegetable gardens where community members can partake.
She added that these could be one of the most effective ways to lessen the impacts of urbanization and climate change, especially in Metro Manila, adding that community gardens and edible landscapes can reduce urban heat, provide various ecosystem services, and stabilize water runoff.
“For a climate vulnerable and developing country like the Philippines, we need more green infrastructure to raise climate change adaptation within our cities and municipalities. Various studies already show that green landscapes improve the quality of life and support economic growth due to a positive ambience influenced by a healthy environment,” Legarda said.
Legarda has authored the Food Forest Gardening bill in the House of Representatives as House Bill No. 637 (earlier filed in the Senate in 2017). The bill seeks to promote and institutionalize food forest gardening in the country as a sustainable land use system to address the limited resources for sustainable food production with minimal farming costs but increased harvests even in small plots of land.
As Chair of Committee on Finance during her time in the Senate, she included in the General Appropriations Act (GAA) the “Gulayan sa Paaralan” program as a special provision in the budget of the Department of Education.
She also supported the “Green, Green, Green” program of the Department of Budget and Management, which aims to promote the development of public open space projects and create more sustainable and liveable cities all over the country through the expansion and rehabilitation of 143 projects, which include 13 institutional open spaces, 21 public squares and plazas, 60 parks, 16 streetscapes, 30 waterfronts, and 2 mangrove parks.
Legarda added that turning public spaces into green landscapes can also help alleviate hunger and malnutrition, as well as provide additional income and livelihood opportunities for poor families. She also mentioned that local authorities and residents play an important role in sustaining these initiatives.
“Our local government units, businesses, the civil society, and all other stakeholders must converge to develop these green spaces for our people and society. Let us consider incorporating these landscapes into our offices and homes as we face and adapt to new challenges to our climate and public health,” Legarda said.
Having her own edible backyard at home, Legarda said, "I can already eat what I plant and plant what I can feed for myself and my family. Simple fruits, vegetables, and crops, such as kamote, kangkong, and tomato can help ensure you have food on the table, while also helping protect our environment and climate," Legarda concluded.