Behind the main building in MES, you will find a green and peaceful space which we call the Learning Garden. It is a space for people to build their connection with the earth, and to learn practical skills for sustainable living.
The first important step was to improve the fertility of the soil by introducing organic matter. Biodegradable wastes were collected from the MES kitchen, neighbors and friends, and were buried in the soil. An important component of the Learning Garden is vermicomposting. It is an effective method to manage biodgradable wastes, and to produce our own premium organic fertilizer to improve the soil in the garden. Leaves and small twigs from the Sanctuary garden were used as mulch.
The plants in the garden are mostly edible, with a few medicinal herbs and flowers to help control the pests. Some features in the garden include a small pond, a scarecrow, herb spiral, vertical growing and trellisses. A simple rainwater harvesting was set-up, which is now being used in the garden.
The Sunbeams daycare kids and their families participated in this process, and they enjoyed helping the Learning Garden take shape. The garden serves as an outdoor classroom for the Sunbeams, and is an important element of the Early Earth Education program of MES.
We have already harvested vegetables, such as beans, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes and many others. Some were served to the Sunbeams children and the MES community, and the surplus was sold to friends and visitors.
This month, MES offered trainings related to the Learning Garden. A training on Growing Organic Vegetables was conducted on November 14. We were lucky to have as trainor, Mr. Jefferson Laruan, Gawad Saka “Outstanding Organic Agriculture Farmer” in the Cordillera region, in 2012 and 2014, and owner of Lily of the Valley Organic Farms in Puguis La Trinidad. The training focused on Soil Fertility Management and Pest Management.
On November 15 and 16, Moren Macay, vermiculturist, led a training workshop on vermicomposting and vermi technologies. Participants learned how to make use of their biodegradable wastes to produce organic fertilizers and pesticides.
Training participants came as concerned citizens who wished help make Baguio city clean and green. Quite a number came from the neighboring barangays of MES, and some NGOs.
The Learning Garden serves to inspire people to get their hands in the soil and grow their own food, for their own and the planet's health . Teaching people how to work on the soil, and to produce healthy food is a great contribution towards a healthy urban ecosystem of Baguio city and the wellbeing of the residents. (Judy Cariño)