Group Pushes Composting and Urban Gardening as Twin Solutions to Waste, Hunger and Climate Woes

Quezon City. A citizens’ coalition has called on Filipino families to fight city blight due to pervasive garbage and poverty by adopting the twin remedies of composting and urban gardening.

In a statement, the Task Force on Ecological Agriculture of the EcoWaste Coalition urged the public to turn their organic discards into compost and to set up gardens in their homes, schools and barangays to help address the problem on waste and climate, while growing healthy food and reducing food expenses.

The group made the plea following a training program on composting and urban gardening in Silang, Cavite last July 29-30, which was attended by some 30 urban leaders from different community groups in Metro Manila, Rizal, Cavite and Nueva Ecija.

According to the group, composting is an easy-to-do, low-cost and effective measure for mitigating climate change that can prevent the formation of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the decomposition of organic waste without oxygen in dumps and landfills.

“By composting organics, we divert a big chunk of our daily garbage output away from dumps and landfills and eliminate methane releases, while improving soil fertility and water retention and cutting energy demands for synthetic fertilizer and pesticide,” stated Rei Panaligan, Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.

Available data show that the ordinary Pinoy yields an average of ½ kilo of garbage a day, some 50-60% of which is biodegradable, which can be easily turned into nutrient-rich compost for replenishing depleted soils and improving plant growth and agricultural production.

“Intensive composting of biodegradable wastes is also in line with Republic Act 10068 or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 that provides for the development and promotion of organic agriculture in the country,” added George Dadivas of the Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation.

“Urban gardens should be promoted in every school, city and sub-urban area. Through this initiative, we can ensure that every home can have easy access to healthy food and reduce their garbage size by turning their biodegradable waste into compost,” said organic farmer Bernie Aragoza of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“By growing our own vegetables, we not only extend our meager budget but also provide additional income for our families from the sale of surplus harvest,” he pointed out.

“If we don’t have backyards, we can utilize open areas or pots to plant nutritious vegetables. We can plant kangkong, kamote, chili, malunggay, tomato and other plants. Composts for our plants are almost always available from our kitchen waste,” he said further.

During the training program, participants learned about the many innovative ways to compost, especially in space-challenged neighborhoods, with the use of clay pots and other containers and the employment of beneficial microorganisms. They also learned how to create food gardens in small areas, homes and even in buildings and condominiums, and how to make homemade fertilizer concoctions.

The trainees came from the Advocates for Environment and Social Justice, Alaga LAHAT, Ang NARS, Cavite Green Coalition, Citizens Concerned with Advocating Philippine Environmental Sustainability, Diocese of Caloocan, Diocese of Imus, Everlasting Penafrancia Residents Association, Institute for the Development of Educational and Ecological Alternatives, Krusada sa Kalikasan, Kupkop Kita Kabayan Foundation, Nagkakaisang Mangangalahig ng Dumpsite Area (Pier 18/Smokey Mountain), November 17 Movement, PYM/ICP (Tayuman), Sama-Sama (Payatas), Sining Yapak, St. Gregory Ecology Ministry and the Sto. Rosario Parish (Cavite).