A communal garden is a small farm that is run and managed by a community for its own consumption and the consumption of its neighbors. These can be backyard gardens, or small farms in empty lots that are managed by nearby households.
A survey from the Social Weather Station revealed that 4.2 million Filipinos experienced involuntary hunger under the current lockdowns, doubling hunger rates from the end of 2019.
The solution lies in communal gardening according to WWF-Philippines Sustainable Farm to Table Food Systems Program Manager Moncini Hinay. Through WWF-Philippines, Hinay has overseen food security and livelihood projects in rural communities all across the country.
A communal garden is a small farm that is run and managed by a community for its own consumption and the consumption of its neighbors. These can be backyard gardens, or small farms in empty lots that are managed by nearby households. They need constant supervision and require working hands, but they’re easy to set up and to manage. But what benefit can a communal garden provide?
(1) The idea of democratic food production. You and your community can decide for themselves what to eat;
(2) The closer you are to the source of your food, the more sure you are that you’ll get to eat it;
(3) What it means for healthy community life. By working together towards the management of a communal garden, neighbors are made to work together to ensure food security for all.
Firstly, there needs to be some sort of buy-in, a proverbial foot-in-the-door, to get such green spaces up and running. “In our experience, we’ve found that introducing community gardens from an enterprise perspective is particularly effective. By providing the initial seeds and capital, an institution or organization can set the groundwork for a fully-functioning communal garden. The promise of further spending power through earnings from the garden can spur townships to continue managing the space,” Hinay said.
Those first few green spaces should then serve as a case study for the rest of the community. The communal garden should showcase highly replicable, low-tech, cost-efficient production technologies, to prove to the community that its management wouldn’t be much of a challenge.
Finally, these community gardens should be built with accessibility in mind. Everyone has the capacity to farm. By designing these communal gardens to be accessible to women, the elderly, youth groups, and PWDs, we can create further employment and increase productivity, while highlighting inspirational figures who could champion the cause of communal gardening.
Through communal gardening, we are not only providing solutions for the coming food crisis but also transforming the very fabric of our community lives. We bring our own sources of food right into our own backyards, for us to grow and manage together with our neighbors, our friends, our families, with others.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown to us our broken food system has not fully addressed the gaps that keep us from achieving food security for all. The solution to the food crisis is in our own hands.
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