July 23, 2024

The city government through the Urban Agriculture Division of the Baguio City Veterinary and Agriculture Office (CVAO) is pursuing youth development and urban agriculture through the Baguio Urban Gardening with the 4-H Club (BUG-4-H) Young Farmers’ Field School Program.

Mayor Benjamin Magalong lauded the program which he said not only advances urban agriculture education but also helps in the development of the city’s youth by teaching them worthwhile activities like backyard farming.

Launched in March 2023, the groundbreaking endeavor integrates agricultural learning into school curriculums to provide positive youth development opportunities and promote sustainable farming practices.

The CVAO under City Veterinarian Silardo Bested and Urban Agriculture Division Head Supervising Agriculturist Marcelina Tabelin said the program is a significant step toward institutionalizing urban agriculture education for its youth.

Tabelin said the program which integgrates agricultural education into the school curriculum provides “positive youth development opportunities by fostering a deeper connection with the environment.”

Students participate in month-long capacity-building sessions and experiential learning activities learning essential agricultural skills.

Due to space constraints in school gardens, the program focuses on cultivating short-season vegetables.

Implementing BUG-4-H in schools fosters a sense of connection and fellowship     among students.

“Better engagement succeeds within the school as there are companions to plant with, making it a fun activity with teacher supervision, facilitating orderly execution and learning from each other,” Tabelin said.

The initiative’s success extends beyond school grounds as parents and students are encouraged to replicate practices learned during capacity-building activities at home, expanding urban agriculture education benefits to households.

After its adoption through an ordinance in 2021, the Bug-4-H initiative was piloted at the Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School and Joaquin Smith National High School and has gained traction since despite the pandemic challenges in organizing community events.

Pinsao Elementary School and Dominican-Mirador National High School are among the new institutions embracing the Bug-4-H initiative this year.

As Baguio City prioritizes sustainable development, initiatives like BUG-4-H are pivotal in nurturing environmentally conscious citizens.

Through hands-on farming experiences, youth gain valuable skills and contribute to a sustainable future for their communities.

“Urban agriculture education is not just a life skill but a way of life deeply ingrained in our culture, something we must pass on to the younger generation,” Tabelin said.

BUG-4-H exemplifies how urban agriculture education positively impacts youth, fostering environmental appreciation and sustainable farming practices. With continued support, Baguio City leads sustainable development through education and empowerment. – Aileen Refuerzo and Jedidiah Ugto