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The Garden Classroom now officially thrives in Siargao

DAPA, SIARGAO – AGREA’s The Garden Classroom (TGC) officially thrives in “The Best Island in the World”: Siargao.

A Memorandum of Agreement was signed between AGREA, represented by its CEO and President Cherrie Atilano, Office of Congressman Francisco Jose Matugas II, represented by Congressman “Bingo” Matugas, and Department of Education Siargao Island, represented by its Superintendent Ma. Teresa Real, on the 18th of August 2019, at the Teachers Training Center, Dapa, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte.

Fifteen public elementary schools, led by 37 The Garden Classroom teacher-ambassadors, are the pilot and model schools in Siargao that will positively impact 3,000 students for school year 2019-2020. This number will increase annually, as the TGC program partnership between AGREA, Office of Congressman Matugas, and DepEd-Siargao, will last and can be renewed in 5 years, from 2019 to 2024.

Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) signed between AGREA, represented by its CEO and President – Cherrie Atilano, Office of Congressman Francisco Jose Matugas II, represented by Congressman “Bingo” Matugas, and Department of Education Siargao Island, represented by its Superintendent – Ma. Teresa Real

The Garden Classroom program is a signature program of AGREA that flourished and first implemented in Marinduque. AGREA’s goal is to create TGCs in all the 183 elementary schools in Marinduque. Now in Siargao, the goal is to create TGC in all of the 120 public elementary schools in the island, impacting 35,000 elementary students. The Garden Classroom will be blooming centers for learning, and will be living classrooms for the students.

During the MOA signing, Congressman Bingo Matugas highlighted, Siargao as the best island in the world is serious about food security”.

“It is very important to develop the local economy of Siargaonons, and agriculture is one way to make this happen. That’s why we are very supportive of AGREA’s The Garden Classroom Program because this is for the future of Siargao.”

Congressman Matugas also shared how his experience on school gardening during elementary years, developed his values of diligence and his connection to food.

READ: Siargao's women take chances in leading agri sector

From idle lands, to ideal living classrooms of learning, The Garden Classroom program’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for elementary students, by turning barren and forgotten school gardens in elementary schools into blooming centers for learning.

DepEd Siargao’s Superintendent, Ma. Teresa Real, shared how her family’s farming background shaped her to love agriculture, and also why she is very positive in implementing The Garden Classroom program in Siargao. She also encouraged all the teacher-ambassadors present in the MOA signing to be the best nurturers and champions of the TGC program in their respective schools.

Through a schoolyard garden, students can learn food cultivation for healthy eating and nutrition, explore wildlife, participate in inter-school farming collaborations, and develop a passion for taking care of plants and the environment. The program also provides a high-quality learning environment, through collaboration with local leaders, community partners, and Parent’s Teachers Association (PTA). These groups share the same goals in mind: scholastic achievement, health and wellness, and real-life connections for students.

READ: AGREA Farm School Offers New Course: Agricultural Crops Production NC II

The pilot schools also receives The Garden Classroom materials. Each set includes vegetable seeds, organic fertilizer, seed tray, string and tape measure, watering can, shovel, rake, hoe, multiple hand trowel, 3-pronged hand cultivator, TGC brand tarpaulin, and a TGC manual. These materials are all sponsored by Congressman Bingo Matugas. All schools will receive these TGC materials set by the end of August 2019.

TGC material set distributed to Dapa Central Elementary School

TGC program in Siargao will also be exciting, as it will incorporate “The Best Garden Classroom Contest”. The contest for the 15 pilot schools will commence on October of this year, and has the following criteria:

Productive TGC (40%) - TGC is both productive and innovative, has almost all of the Bahay Kubo vegetables, and is grown organically.

Parent’s Teachers Association (PTA) Cooperation (30%) – cooperation and engagement of the PTA to make the school gardens productive and profitable. Parents, together with their children, will be able to harness and show agripreneurship aspect. Income of the TGC of the schools should be recorded transparently. TGC income will also be a core income generating program (IGP) of the schools that will be mainly utilized for the benefit of the students such as: healthy feeding programs, school contributions, etc.

Eco-Friendliness (30%) – Creative and innovative ecobrick design will also be integrated on the TGC program, to harness the sense of love for the environment for the students.

READ: AGREA Farm School Offers Pest Management (Vegetables) NC II

Distribution of TGC material set to Mabuhay Primary School

Led by AGREA, the replication of The Garden Classroom in Siargao is made possible by the Department of Education – Siargao, and Office of Congressman Francisco Jose “Bingo” Matugas, 1st District Representative of Surigao del Norte. These organizations are all united in achieving the goal of enhancing the relationship of students with the environment, and to use the barren lands as classroom to enhance students’ knowledge in agriculture.

AGREA’s Founding Farmer and CEO Cherrie Atilano, shared in a statement on why The Garden Classroom should be integrated in educational institutions, and should be the trend to the younger generation: “investing in the future of public elementary schools for their garden classroom as venue for education, mind set change towards agriculture, and healthy food, is the game changer.”

TGC’s way towards a food secure future, is cultivating love for the land and food in the hearts and minds of the younger generation. AGREA’s TGC is a game changer.

READ: Police-led community gardens provide peace, order, and vegetables

Here is the list of the 15 pilot TGC schools in Siargao: Esperanza Elementary School, Mabuhay Primary School, Dapa Central Elementary School, Libertad Elementary School, General Luna Central Elementary School, Pilar Central Elementary School, San Isidro Central Elementary School, Baybay Elementary School, Sapao Central Elementary School, San Benito Central Elementary School, Songkoy Elementary School, Atoyay Elementary School, Union Elementary School, Cancohoy Elementary School, and Pamosaingan National High School.

Distribution of TGC material set to Esperanza Elementary School

Do you want to support our TGC program in Siargao and Marinduque, you may email us at hello@agrea.ph.

Christine De Siree F. Jodloman
Posted 4:00 PM, 28 August 2019
Updated 4:00 PM, 28 August 2019

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