Mabolo UISB Gardening Winner

As part of the University Interdormitory Student Body (UISB) efforts to promote local food security and a healthy diet for all dormitory residents, an edible gardening contest was spearheaded this year as part of the organization's major activities.

Among 19 entries, Mabolo Men’s Home was unanimously declared as the overall champion for this competition. They secured the highest points from all the three invited judges with its evaluation held on the afternoon of May 11, 2024.

Supported by the newly reconstituted Dean of Students Office (DSO), the edible gardening contest that commenced in March 2024 allowed VSU students to apply their practical agriculture skills to cultivate and maintain their backyard vegetable farms that can be a source of healthy and nutritious food supply for dormitory residents of the flagship campus in Baybay City.

Mr. Adonis G. Quiapo, a sophomore agriculture student from Mabolo Men’s Home, led his co-occupants in the dorm by planning, executing, and maintaining the winning edible food garden that did not only include an array of vegetable crops but also included a makeshift bamboo shed that protects the cultivated vegetables from extreme heat brought by the El Niño phenomenon.

Their garden also included a practical drip irrigation system to provide a constant source of water to the cultivated plants that got the nod of the three judges. This resulted in a healthy growth of the vegetable crops that can be visibly noticed because of their vibrant green colors and lush foliage.

Meanwhile, the Molave Men’s Home was adjudged as the second-best edible garden with their backyard vegetable farm located in a hilltop.

Even before this competition was conceptualized by the UISB, the Molave Men’s Home have long maintained their backyard garden which they revived during the pandemic as part of the university’s response against local food insecurity.

Beyond the contest, the residents of Molave Men’s Home are persistent in maintaining their backyard garden in the many years to come to teach their dormitory residents about the importance of growing your food.

The same dormitory has been assisted previously by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) for basic seed supply that enabled them to grow healthy vegetables through the years.

Mulberry Men’s Home ranked third with their edible garden called ‘Farmacy’, a term that blends "farm" and "pharmacy." It mainly refers to a concept or practice where plants, herbs, and other natural resources are cultivated and utilized for medicinal purposes. 

In a farmacy, the emphasis is often on organic and sustainable farming practices to produce medicinal plants. These plants can then be processed into various forms such as herbal extracts, tinctures, teas, or essential oils, which are used for health and wellness purposes.

While they have a very limited area to implement their backyard garden, the occupants of Mulberry Men’s Home utilized pots and worn-out bicycle tires that gave their dormitory facade an added aesthetic appeal.

In fourth place, the Ilang-Ilang Ladies Hall proved that farming and backyard gardening can also be performed effectively by women.

Their backyard garden in Ilang-Ilang Ladies Hall is considered one of the oldest edible food landscapes maintained in a dormitory as this practice was first initiated by their alumna Ms. Cherrie S. Atilano.

She is a prominent figure in the field of agriculture in the country and around the world because of her advocacy and efforts to promote sustainable farming practices, empower farmers, and address food security issues. Ms. Atilano was recently appointed as a Nutrition Ambassador no less than the United Nations.

Completing the magic five in the interdorm food gardening contest is Mahogany Men’s Home with their small backyard farm sandwiched between their kitchen and their main dormitory facade.

Just like the winning dormitory, they also built a protective shed for their cultivated crops to protect them from extreme heat.

While this year’s winners were mainly dominated by Upper Campus dormitories, the cottages, and dormitories in the Lower Campus were also equally notable because of the practicality and replicability of their backyard gardens that can be easily done at home.

Dr. Jerry B. Sanguillosa, the Chairman of the Board of Judges and the current Head of the Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics (DPBG) expressed his delight about this commendable initiative of the UISB to promote local gardening in dormitories and cottages within VSU Main Campus.

“The VSU dormitories' sustainable gardening project not only supports our greener university initiatives as a form of environmental stewardship, but it also sows healthy seeds for the residents to be more ecologically conscious, knowing the importance of resource conservation. The bountiful harvest in itself is just a byproduct of having residents with a sense of responsibility, initiatives, innovations, and environmental accountability," Dr. Sanguillosa explained.

UISB is committed to continuing this competition in the many years to come to promote sustainable living and healthy diets among dormitory and cottage residents of the university.

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