Teacher Belen and her students take care of their school garden.
Ms. Belen Cruz is not just a teacher of Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) at the Balatong Elementary School but also a farmer at heart.
Growing up with both parents as farmers, Cruz wanted to learn about modern agricultural techniques and joined workshops such as SM Foundation’s Kabalikat Sa Kabuhayan (KSK) Farmers’ Training Program from August to November 2017.
She made use of what she learned from KSK for a gardening project at their school. She taught her fifth grade students how to plant at the school yard using unused metal chairs, which they have converted into stands where vegetables like upo and ampalaya can crawl, as well as serving as stands for reused water bottles used as pots for other crops. Some of the pots used in their garden were once containers of flour, lard and other bakery items.
The school garden grows various vegetables such as eggplants, tomatoes, cucumber, papaya and more. Cruz also has pandan and oregano, which she uses as pesticides combined with sili to ward off insects. Proceeds from the garden’s harvest are used to buy more seeds and also support the feeding program of the school for the students.
Cruz also promotes recycling, encouraging their students to bring empty PET bottles, plastics and other reusable materials. The school also features recycled chairs made from oil drums that were converted into sofa sets and tables. Balatong Elementary School has been winning in solid waste management, recycling contests and farming contests organized by the Department of Education.