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Lush farms sprout amid Manila's concrete sprawl

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 01:58

Vegetable farms grow on rooftops, shanty towns and school grounds amid the cramped, concrete surroundings of metro Manila. Michaela Cabrera investigates.

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STORY: Mustard, Chinese cabbage and eggplant have weathered all seasons on this rooftop garden in Manila. Though the densely populated Philippine capital is not exactly an agricultural mecca, its largest sub-city has taken up the challenge of greening its surroundings. Quezon City vice mayor Joy Belmonte launched an urban farming project in an effort to alleviate poverty and improve nutrition among poor families. The local government engaged town councils, schools and non-profit groups, setting them up with seeds, farming tools and basic materials to make a greenhouse. It's been a great success, and Belmonte says lack of space needn't deter green-thumbed city dwellers from farming. SOUNDBITE: QUEZON CITY VICE MAYOR JOY BELMONTE SAYING (English): "Even in the areas which are more highly congested, we are able to teach a form of urban farming wherein they can plant vegetables in containers, like Coke bottles, or in tyres, or in cans. So it is possible to grow vegetables even in a small space." Agriculturist Raul Norbe says creating an abundant urban farm requires the right seeds, topsoil, up to eight hours of sunlight, and water that can be recycled from home. The San Antonio Elementary School has successfully cultivated a garden in their campus, growing vegetables in rubber tyres and plastic bottles, and then cooking them for lunch. Around 30,000 people are taking part in the programme, sourcing vegetables either for free or certainly for lower than market prices, which continue to soar. The city government hopes to target more communities, and plans to build a large greenhouse where it can produce its own seeds.

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Lush farms sprout amid Manila's concrete sprawl

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 - 01:58