Edible landscaping a food security solution

The edible garden on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños also looks like a typical garden, only that it is also planted with vegetables.  UPLB PHOTO

The edible garden on the campus of the University of the Philippines Los Baños also looks like a typical garden, only that it is also planted with vegetables. UPLB PHOTO

EXPERTS from the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) on Wednesday highlighted the potential of edible landscaping to help the country achieve food security amid the pandemic.

At the Manila Times forum entitled “Plantastique: Sustainable Gardening for Home and Business”, professors from the UPLB College of Agriculture and Food Science (CAFS) discussed the enormous potential of edible landscaping, which is mainly about the use of innovative food production technologies and Landscaping is about ensuring a targeted food supply.

Edible landscaping is gaining traction as rising food prices, food nutrition, and food security remain major pressing issues even today, said Fernando Sanchez Jr., professor and project leader for the UPLB-CAFS edible landscaping unit. About two out of three Philippine households are currently affected by food insecurity, he cited.

Sanchez said edible landscaping aims to achieve the four goals of aesthetics, functionality, health and wellness, and self-sufficiency. “With edible landscaping, we can create attractive and functional spaces.”

He cited an edible technology demonstration garden on the UPLB campus and a school garden in Pilar, Laguna as one of the examples of success stories in edible landscaping.

“Through edible landscaping, we can also promote health and well-being across generations. We can start [teaching] our children to help grow plants and eat vegetables, and the elderly can find time to do edible landscaping instead of watching Netflix, or they can teach them to do it [grandchildren] how to grow plants as a healthy pastime for young and old, “explained Sanchez.

Based on a 2019 expanded national nutrition survey by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, there has been a significant increase in vegetable consumption by Filipino adults regardless of household income. Meanwhile, a study by the World Health Organization found that adults need to eat at least 400 grams of vegetables without potatoes, tubers and starchy root crops to reduce the risk of NCDs and ensure an adequate daily intake of fiber.

The Philippines has been malnourished for nearly 30 years, Sanchez lamented, and “the prevalence of malnutrition in our country has almost not improved.” Citing the World Bank, Sanchez also found that one in three children under the age of 5 are stunted or short for their age.

Ways and how

During the forum, Bryan Apacionado, Assistant Professor of the Institute of Crop Science at UPLB-CAFS, discussed the process of edible landscaping – design, implementation and maintenance.

First, he said landscapers should identify their desired “softscapes” or plants that they want to grow in their spaces, with a special focus on edible plants. While planters can include ornamental plants, Apacionado reminded them to follow the 70-30 rule – 70 percent edible plants and 30 percent ornamental plants. “They should be nutritious because that’s how we feed our families.”

Then there is a need to identify the “hardscapes” which, according to Apasionado, are the non-living components of the landscape or the garden. These can be paths, benches and tables, among other things.

Second, he mentioned the crucial process of analyzing one’s own landscape and identifying its biophysical and microclimatic conditions. “Usually we have pinakbet vegetables in warm areas and chop suey vegetables in cold areas.”

This is followed by drawing and designing, which must be based on the principles and elements of design – shapes, colors, lines and texture, balance, contrast, proportions, emphasis and harmony, Apacionado has enumerated.

“This is where we need to know how to combine plants to create a more interesting landscape … so that we can create an edible garden that not only fills our stomachs, but also amazes and treasures our eyes,” he explained.

Tips and Tricks

Meanwhile, Ryan Rodrigo Tayobong, Technical Associate and Assistant Professor at UPLB, shared some plant care tips and tricks that landscapers, especially beginners, could follow, noting that “we always want to plant, but sometimes we lack the experience and even lack of confidence “. on handling plants in our garden. “

Some tricks include practicing crop rotation and creating a harvest calendar to reduce pests under the plants and restore soil fertility.

He also mentioned the importance of setting up a vermicomposting pit and a rainwater collector.

“It is also important to pay attention to sustainability [and] Continuity of the maintenance of your garden. And it is very important not only to plan the layout of your garden for harvest, but also to design a room or your source for manure and other compost, “he added.

To achieve the relevant goals of edible landscaping, the UPLB team has worked proactively with various sectors, community and private organizations and government agencies, according to Sanchez. The team is currently selling edible landscape starter kits, which it developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Office for Agricultural Research as a sponsor.

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