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The Philippines – Where School Farms Aren’t Such a New Idea

Victoriano de Costa Elementary School’s students. Farmers in their ‘fields’. Photo by David Hagerman

School gardens in the Philippines

By Robyn Eckhardt and David Hagerman
Eating Asia
Wonderful website – wonderful photos. Mike


Long before Alice Waters introduced the concept of students growing their own food in Berkeley kids were putting hoe to soil at schools in the Philippines. School farms in the island nation go back at least to World War II. Many were, and still are, born of necessity. Others are started not only to feed kids but to teach them life skills and engender a respect for farming.

Didn’t know about this? I’m not surprised. We wouldn’t know about the Philippines’ own ‘edible schoolyards’ either had we not stumbled upon the farm at Victoriano de Castro Elementary School in Santa Rita, Pampanga province while on assignment there in December 2007 for Saveur magazine.

We were in Santa Rita to observe the laborious, time-consuming process by which young rice is transformed into the Pampangan seasonal specialty duman.

On our way from the paddies from which the rice was harvested to the shed where it would be threshed, roasted, and pounded we passed a U-shaped school building whose entire center courtyard — and all of the concrete planters fronting the classrooms — was given over to vegetable beds. It wasn’t yet 7:30 in the morning and in amongst the rows enthusiastically digging, weeding, watering, and harvesting were dozens of uniformed students.

What a sight! And certainly not one we’re familiar with from the United States. We entered the schoolyard, began nosing around, and were eventually introduced to Head Teacher Carazon Yaya and agriculture studies instructor Ergado Yaya, who were happy to show us around.

Read the complete article and photos here.


1 Lisa Doucette { 10.19.10 at 10:03 am }


I am a parent at our beloved McBride Annex, which is under threat of being closed by the VSB. We are very interested in transforming the school by planting a school garden which students would help build and tend. All students would work in the garden, prepare meals in the kitchen, learn in the kitchen classroom, and practice composting. We’d also like to install solar panels on our flat roof, start a hands-on Recycling programs in the school and surrounding community to reduce garbage and waste and introduce Climate Change and How to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint as a subject to be taught in school.

Our hope is to create an innovative charter school at McBride Annex that would draw new students from around Vancouver to enroll here. We need help to put together a proposal before the Oct. 28 7 pm VSB McBride Annex School Closure Info. Meeting. If you can help us in any way, we would be eternally grateful.

Lisa Doucette
604 568-3300

2 alejandro { 06.27.12 at 1:56 pm }

very good observation. yes, culturally we were already introduced at the very early stage of our elementary education especially true to schools in the rural areas.