Written by Pia Lopez and Alessia Kockel | Pictures by Alessia Kockel and the Plant Nursery Project members
Good things can be born out of a pandemic. From economic hardships, comes ingenuity and entrepreneurship. Disruption of supply forces self-sustenance. Lack of access to food compels individuals to cultivate their own land. And while many businesses close indefinitely, community aide programs spring up in multitudes providing help where it is needed. The Plant Nursery Project was born out of the crisis addressing food security from the ground up.
The Plant Nursery Project was initiated back in late March following the island lockdown. It was initiated by a Canadian couple, Alessia Kockel and Tyler Palov. Alessia specializes in marine conservation and fisheries management, and Tyler has a background in water resource management. They were in search of future projects or research opportunities in their fields while in the Philippines, and at the beginning of community quarantine, Alessia and Tyler found themselves at Lokal Stay. Instantly, they knew they wanted to collaborate with Lokal.lab who shared their values and vision regarding food security. Lokal.lab is a non-governmental organization that supports communities in Burgos and surrounding areas through sustainable projects promoting local culture. This chance encounter led to the development of the Plant Nursery Project.
“The loss of jobs and income would stifle many people’s access to food. Subsistence farming can supplement household food supplies, but the cost and availability of seeds is a major issue,” Alessia noted. To solve this issue, they raised funds for seeds and building materials and created a plant nursery. Weeks later they were providing free vegetable seedlings to local communities. “A variety of vegetable and herb seeds are planted weekly by local staff and volunteers. Wrapped in banana leaf pods, the seedlings are available for pick up during weekdays. This is for everyone wishing to start or maintain a home or community garden. Seedlings are also delivered to different barangays each week,” shares Alessia.
By mid-July, over 10,000 seedlings have been donated to over 800 local residents of Santa Monica, Burgos, and San Isidro. The project has been well received by residents, tourists, and the local government alike. Local residents have commented that the re-harvested vegetables from donated seedlings are helping them meet their day-to-day needs during this difficult time. Furthermore, excess produce is shared with family and friends and some are sold for supplemental income.
When asked what the future holds, Alessia optimistically answers, “While we are looking to acquire additional funds, the Plant Nursery Project will continue to operate for at least three more months. The aim is to reach most, if not all, barangay’s in Burgos, Santa Monica, and San Isidro. We are also working to develop community workshops on how to collect, store, and germinate seeds. Many of the seeds we have on-site are from ‘open pollination’ varieties, which make them ideal for replanting. Building local knowledge on how to collect and store these quality seeds, will help to ensure that the seedlings, from this project, continue to feed the local residence of Siargao Island well into the future.”
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Facebook: The Plant Nursery Project
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