With nutrition being one of the Club’s strongest advocacies, it is no wonder that supplemental feeding for undernourished children has been among our longest-running projects. We just entered into another of its incarnations—feeding and gardening, with Phil Atkins, an Australian and friend of Dir. Mike Escaler, as primary advocate and proponent. It was Dir. Mike, who has been supporting the project for 15 years, who recommended the project to the Club for funding assistance.
At last week’s meeting, we handed to Phil a check for P50,000 representing our contribution as project partner. And last Wednesday, May 9, Pres. Jun Jun Dayrit and Dir. Mike motored to Zambales to visit the site and personally observe project.
The project is anchored on organic vegetable gardening, forward-integrated with a feeding program for 600 school children at the San Isidro Elementary School in Castillejos, Zambales. Phil hopes to expand the coverage to serve and additional 300 to 500 children.
The organic garden covers half a hectare of land, where they grow a variety of vegetables such as ampalaya (bitter gourd), tomato, eggplant, okra, pechay (local bok choy), cucumber, lettuce, and broccoli, among others. They use composting to produce organic fertilizer and the produce they harvest is used as ingredients for the meals they serve the kids three times a week.
The project has several components: training on organic gardening, establishment of a nursery, establishment of a composting facility, and rehabilitation of an existing water system. In addition, there’s active community participation, with the parents given responsibility for operating and maintaining the garden and the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist serving as project implementor.
Total funding has come up to P155,800, P50,000 from RC Makati, the rest from Rotary Clubs and Rotarians in his home country, Australia.