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Grow your own food: Camille Villar pushes school farming amid pandemic

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As more people are encouraged to grow their own gardens during the pandemic, Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar is pushing for the immediate approval of a bill mandating schools to set up their own backyard farms.

“It is important to introduce the concept of cultivating their own campus farms inside schools to students at a very young age as more people are shifting to a new normal in this time of pandemic,” said Villar, who filed House Bill 6472 institutionalizing the “Gulayan sa Paaralan.”

Once enacted, local governments are mandated to grant incentives for urban agriculture efforts in their areas, while tax perks await grants, endowments, donations or contributions and technical assistance provided by private individuals or corporations to schools for the promotion of school gardens.

School gardens are important to cushion the impacts of COVID-19 while harvesting nutritious food especially in urban areas, Villar said.

“Kapag umuwi sila ng bahay, ‘yung mga pinagtabasang gulay tulad ng kangkong, alugbati at iba pa maaari nilang itanim,” she added.

The concepts of urban agriculture and vertical farming will be integrated in the curriculum of both public and private educational institutions.

Villar noted that school gardens are also an important tool to motivate kids and stimulate learning in classrooms. Researchers noted “numerous positive effects” of garden-based learning among students compared with those without campus gardens, she said.