A glamorous way to launch farming

 

By Rose de la Cruz 

Farming, for the most part, is associated with the unlettered, lowly and overworked rural planter whose toils feed the population. 

Quite a few wealthy people take delight (as a weekend hobby) in soiling their hands and getting callouses on their feet and soft hands as a result of long exposure to soil, sand and chemicals from fertilizers and pesticides, which for many have caused severe illnesses.

 But SM Foundation Inc. and SM Aura Premier management took urban gardening a notch or two higher by launching on Wednesday at the 5th floor Skypark in BGC the herbal urban gardening program, as they partnered with Macondray Plastics Inc. and the Capuchin priests of Tulay Lingap ni Padre Pio. 

The venue is definitely premier and high-end and the target markets for such herbs and veggies are the high-rise dwellers of elite Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, who, if they choose to engage in urban gardening themselves, would be taught and assisted by farmers trained by SMFI’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan program headed by Cristie Angeles, SMFI Director for livelihood.

Among those who attended the launch were candidates of Miss Earth, Debbie Sy, executive director of SMFI, Linda Atayde, executive director for education of SMFI,  actress and model Iza Calzado and several other beauties and celebrities as well as mall goers. Caterer to the late afternoon event was the nearby Vietnamese restaurant which served freshly-cut herbs and veggies of KSK participants.

Other beneficiaries of the program are the saucy dine-in restaurants operating at the most-recent elite mall of SM Group of companies, who make it a point to frequent the weekend markets for fresh supply of herbs and fresh natural vegetables. 

And for SM Aura Premier, the 5th floor Skypark, will have an added feature to make it a must-see and to-go destination especially for families and rich children, with very little knowledge and appreciation of farming and the beauty of raising one’s own herbs and veggies right in a tight space of the condos, said Bernice Baculi, AVP for Operations of SM Aura Premier. 

Macondray has been partnering with SMFI for urban gardening programs for Metro Manila and nearby provinces, dealing mostly with local governments and farming groups and training them best practices on how to grow and care for herbs, vegetables and other ornamental plants to be able to get better returns from farming them. Most of KSK recipients are the unemployed housewives and participants of the 4Ps program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, explained Angeles. 

This is the first time that urban gardening this high-class was launched in Metro Manila and it is hoped that other condo property developers and condo corporations (as homeowners are called) for purposes like providing for their own food right at their balconies, to help in greening the environment and for a productive hobby for themselves and their family members, said Baculi. 

It is also the first time that a religious order, the Capuchins, (which take care of the poor, the homeless and neglected elderly and orphaned children, the disadvantaged and the sick) would be participating in a productive food production program and widening its fund base to ensure the continuity of its worthy causes. 

The Boxes of Greens, which would house the greenhouse where the seeds and planting materials would be raised and sold by KSK farmers, would be a permanent feature of Skypark so that mall visitors and dwellers/employees of nearby multi-use condo towers can visit during mall hours, Baculi said. 

Boxes of Greens is envisioned as a sustainable greenhouse that will serve the community of Taguig and neighboring cities. It would offer workshops to mallgoers on weekends about the growing and upkeep of plants. The garden aims to inspire children and adults to care and appreciate nature. 

The proceeds of Boxes of Greens would go to building schools, planting trees, emergency assistance for disasters and developing feeding and medical clinics for the underprivileged. Also benefitting from it are the KSK graduates—scholars of SM Foundation—who will be leading the Boxes of Greens’ daily operations. 

SM Aura Premier is the first mall to receive a gold LEED certification by meeting international standards on indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and energy and water efficiency. 

In the coming months, SM Aura Premier said it would strengthen its trash-to-cash recycling market every first Friday and Saturday of the month and would be launching a zero-waste management, eco-bricking among other environmental initiatives.

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