Helen happily cultivates her garden.

DAVAO City  -Gardening used to be a privilege of those with backyards big enough to cultivate garden beds of vegetables and other crops. Usually common in people living in rural areas, gardening is a lifestyle promoted widely in communities. Just recently, a fresh approach on gardening was introduced. Urban Container Gardening is an initiative that hopes to help boost food security in the country.

For 43-year old Helen Camacho of Purok 13, Barangay Tibungco, Davao City, it is an income-generating hobby. “Sa pirmiro nako nga pagtanom, nagsugod ko sa baynte ka semilya sa pechay. Nagakuha pud ko sa sementeryo og mga tetra pack aron matamnan (I started off with only 20 seedlings of Chinese cabbage. I also go to the nearby cemetery to gather and recycle tetra packs which I use as pots),” shared Helen.

From 20 pechay seedlings, Helen now has over 70 pechay seedlings along with other crops that she cultivates in their house. To make soil containers, Helen personally sews the tetra packs that she gathers from the cemetery. She even builds her own makeshift racks. “Dako kaayo og tabang ang Urban Container Gardening sa amoang pagpamuyo. Busa magkugi gyud ko aron mas mapanindot pa ni (Urban Container Gardening is a huge help. I will really strive to improve my garden more),” said Helen excitedly.

Her husband, 41-year old Alejandro works as a tricycle driver and earns at most P 300 a day. As an additional income, Helen repacks the seedlings that she bought and sells it to co-Pantawid Pamilya beneficiaries at 5 pesos per piece. Helen also sells her produce to her neighbors or at the local market.

Lima lang man gyud katuig ang Pantawid Pamilya. Apan sa lima ka tuig nga pagka-apil namo daghan kaayo mig natun-an. Kining Urban Container Gardening magamit gyud ni namo kay dili lang kini makalingawan namo, usa pud kini ka pamaagi nga makakwarta kami (We will only stay in the program for five years. However, in those five years we have learned a lot. We can really use this Urban Container Gardening. It is more than a hobby but it is income generating as well),” pondered Helen.

Helen has been cultivating her Urban Container Gardening since February 2013. She now has over 200 seedlings.

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is a poverty-alleviation strategy of the national government that provides “conditional cash assistance” to identified poor households in the country by giving out cash grants of at most P 1,400.00 for families with three qualified children. Family beneficiaries are required to send their children to school and keep them healthy in order to claim their cash grants. At present, 193,798 families in 44 municipalities and 6 cities, covering all 4 provinces are benefiting from the program in Region XI. DSWD