DR. ISA COJUANGCO SUNTAY: Gardening Advocacy Continues

Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda of the AFP and Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay of Tarlac Heritage Foundation lead harvest festival participants in harvesting vegetables at the Hardin Ng Lunas at Fort Bonifacio.

It seems there is no stopping this gardening advocacy that the Tarlac Heritage Foundation and the Philippine Army have been pursuing since 2012, first in Tarlac, then in Malacaรฑang Park, and now at the Army headquarters in Fort Bonifacio.

The garden at Fort Bonifacio yielded a bountiful harvest of vegetables during a festival on July 18, attended by soldiers headed by Lt. Gen. Glorioso Miranda, members of the THF and other cooperating parties like East-West Seed, Corvill Agricom and others.

Gen. Glorioso Miranda and a big ampalaya harvested from Hardin ng Lunas.
Lt. Gen. Anthony Alacantara (Ret),with his own harvest of veggies.
Pvt. Junilo Salibad is one of the gardeners who worked in Hardin ng Lunas.

The garden is a 1,500 square meter vacant lot with hard compacted soil that had to be improved to make the veggies grow. A team of 17 AFP personnel that includes officials and privates worked hard to coax the problem soil to produce a bountiful harvest of pakchoi, pechay, mustard, upland kangkong, spinach, okra, eggplant, ampalaya, upo and others.

The work force received valuable guidance from the agriculturists of East-West Seed as well as from Corvill Agricom of Tony Cortes. In the process, the army personnel who worked on the project were able to learn the improved techniques of growing high-value vegetables. The technologies they learned will be theirs to keep for life and to share with others.

Mrs. Ludivina Alcantara and Mrs. Isabel Suntay posing with beautiful spinach. Very good for stir-frying and making soup.
Anthony Cortes of Corvill Agricom with patola fruits.

As Dr. Isa Cojuangco of THF said, the Hardin ng Lunas, as the garden is called, aims to develop idle camp lands and make them productive for the benefit of AFP personnel and their dependents. It also aims to create a healthy lifestyle among members of the AFP, their dependents and their intended beneficiaries. The project also aims to teach interested parties proper organic gardening skills and techniques.

At the same time the project also aims to encourage a love for agriculture among our people, meaning farming, backyard gardening, container gardening and the like, so that more people will be able to make a positive contribution to the food chain.

As. Dr. Suntay remarked during the program, lack of space should not deter people from engaging in planting food crops because vegetables can be grown even in recycled containers. Gardening could be a source of healthful food and could also provide additional income for the practitioners.

Beneficiaries receiving their vegetables.
Mike dela Paz of East-West Seed posing with Chinese Kangkong.
Pakchoi is a hybrid that is higher-priced than pechay.

Gen. Miranda remarked that after witnessing the beautiful vegetables grown in the Hardin ng Lunas, he had discovered what he would like to do after retirement. He confessed that he is scheduled to retire in a few months and when someone asked what he would do after he retired, he could not think of an answer. But now he knows. He would go back to the soil, he said in his speech before attendees of the festival.

Actually, there are two sites of Hardin ng Lunas at Fort Bonifacio. The harvest from one was harvested for distribution to AFP personnel and other beneficiaries during the festival. Some of the vegetables in the 1,500-sq.m. garden are for sale at farmgate prices which are lower than what is prevailing in public markets and supermarkets.

The beauty about the vegetables from the garden is that they are really fresh and are grown organically, hence very safe to eat.

Dr. Isa Cojuangco Suntay pose with lush green veggies at the Hardin ng Lunas at Fort Bonifacio where a harvest festival was held on July 18, 2017.

After harvesting, a new set of seedlings will be planted again. According to Gen. Miranda, there will be no stopping. In fact, some other vacant areas will be evaluated for their suitability for planting vegetables.
Whatโ€™s good about vegetables is that they are short-term crops that can be harvested within a short time after planting. They are also nutritious food that can contribute to healthy lifestyle.

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