An all-female organization in the city has launched a project dubbed “Gulayan sa Balay”, which involves distributing vegetable seedlings to residents who wish to set up their home gardens despite having limited spaces.

Connie Salmasan, executive vice president of the JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock Inc. or Peacock Jaycees, said that under the project, the organization will grow the seedlings and the beneficiary residents will take care of them in their home gardens, to supplement their food requirements during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Salmasan, one of the project’s initiators, said the project helps residents to be productive while under enhanced community quarantine or ECQ.

“Nag-come up kami sa idea dahil sa nakikita namin yong extension ng ECQ, naisip namin na kailangan ng pagkakaabalahan ang mga tao sa loob ng bakuran ng kanilang bahay. At the same time, nakakatulong sa gobyerno, nakakatulong sa community,” she said.

“Bilang members ng JCI, as an organization, talagang it’s a call for us to do something na makakatulong sa community,” Salmasan added.

Through urban gardening style, Salmasan said members of the Peacock Jaycees plant the seeds within their backyards and in a week’s time. When the seeds have turned to cotyledons and begin to show first leaves, they are turned over to barangay beneficiaries.

The organization started the project on April 5, where planting and growing the first batch of green leafy vegetable seedlings was initiated by the members on April 13-April 18.

During the first batch of around 500 seedlings, Salmasan said, were distributed to beneficiaries in Barangays Sta. Monica, San Miguel, Tiniguiban, San Pedro, Inagawan, Bacungan, and San Jose.

Working with DA, Yamang Bukid, Impruber

Salmasan said the Peacock Jaycees is closely working with the Department of Agriculture (DA), which provided 10 packs of seeds; Yamang Bukid which donated three packs of seeds and grown seedlings; and Impruber which donated 20 sacks of garden soil and 40 packs of seeds.

“Noong nag-post na kami, may mga nag-comment na ibang barangay na wala sa amin. Naisip namin na kailangan talaga natin ng growers,” she said.

“Noong nakita namin na lumalaki yong need at hindi kailangan na selected barangays lang, doon na kami nag-open ng second part of the project which is the sponsorship and donations,” Salmasan added.

She said that they have widened the scope of the project to encourage more growers from the barangays of the city.

They are planting vegetables such as pechay, okra, talong, and kangkong.

(Photos courtesy of Connie Salmasan)

Partnership with Oplan Linis

On Friday, April 17, the City Oplan Linis management has partnered with the Peacock Jaycees for a joint effort in growing seedlings.

Through the collaboration, Salmasan said they are expecting a larger number of seedlings to be given to the barangays.

Ma. Jessa Cristina Tadlas, project chairman, said Tuesday that they are expecting their second batch of distribution to give away 1,000 seedlings to the barangays.

“Kapag grower, yong kalahati ay mapupunta sa barangay at yong kalahati ay mapupunta sa kanya o puwede niya rin ibigay sa mga neighbor niya para kung sino yong mabigyan ay puwede sila magtanim, puwede rin maging grower, para ma-share din nila sa mga nangangailangan,” she said.

“Kaya ibibigay sa barangay kasi may mga gusto mag-avail at yong barangay ang magbibigay sa beneficiaries na gusto mag-avail,” Tadlas added.

No more seeds available

Tadlas said that many responded to their call for growers in different barangays of the city. At present, they already have 30 growers.

Aside from interested growers from barangays in Puerto Princesa, there are also individuals from different towns and even outside the province who are tapping them for seedlings.

“Kaso sa ngayon nagkakaubusan kami ng seeds kasi ang dami nag-i-inquire. Nakipag-partner na kami sa DA kaso wala pa silang seeds na maibigay. Nakakuha kami noong nakaraan pero kulang na sa sobrang dami na nang nag-i-inquire,” she said.

“Sinasabi na lang namin na antay na lang muna kasi medyo nagkakaubusan pero naiintindihan din naman nila kasi kahit saan sila magtanong ay wala na rin silang makuhaan ng seeds,” Tadlas added.

She said because many individuals are staying at home due to ECQ, they are also encouraged to start their own home gardens and plant seedlings.

“Malaking tulong ito sa kanila lalo ngayon na ganito yong kalagayan natin at mas lalo nila makikita ang kahalagahan ng agrikultura. Kasi napapansin ko lang dito sa atin na nababalewala ang agrikultura, hindi lang naman,” she said.

“Hindi lang naman frontliners, sila yong tinatawag natin na backliners kaya dito makikilala ang kahalagahan ng agrikultura dito sa atin,” she added.

Tadlas said that their call for donations of plastic bottles, garden soils, and seeds is continuously ongoing. They can pick up the donations so donors would no longer go outside of their houses.

They are also accepting cash sponsorships through bank transfer to Tadlas’ BDO savings account number 5040417838.

Aside from the Gulayan sa Balay project, Salmasan shared that they also have other stay-at-home projects, such as help for residents experiencing mental anxieties, math and science distance learning project through online tutorials, and providing homegrown vegetable recipes.

The projects are under the leadership of JCI Puerto Princesa Peacock chapter president Angei Aurello.

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is one of the senior reporters of Palawan News. She covers agriculture, business, and different feature stories. Her interests are collecting empty bottles, aesthetic earrings, and anything that is color yellow.