DENR National Capital Region gave away more than 600 seedlings of fruit-bearing trees and other food crops to mall-goers over the weekend to celebrate Earth Day.
The regional office, in partnership with SM Cares and SM Mall of Asia, set up an Earth Day Exhibit and Community PanTREE on the second floor of South Entertainment Hall, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City that ran from April 22-24, 2022.
The seedlings were given away to visitors of the exhibit through the Community PanTREE.Community PanTREE is DENR National Capital Region’s version of the community pantries that sprouted last year in different parts of the country to give free food and other essentials to people struggling through weeks of being locked down in their homes as a measure to control the spread of Covid-19.
Instead of food, the Community PanTREE gave away free seedlings to inspire people to take up urban farming and gardening. “We’re responding at this time not only to issues of climate resiliency and food security but also mental health during the pandemic”, Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan explained.
“Weeks of isolation and uncertainty made many people anxious and depressed, so we thought of giving them some form of activity to take the worries off their minds and ease the situation. We knew tending your own garden, however small, was one such activity. So we came up with the idea of setting up a Community PanTREE”, Director Caancan said.
The first Community PanTREE was set up on Earth Day 2021 at the DENR-NCR Nursery in North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City with the tagline “Magtanim ng Ayon sa Kakayanan; Umani ng Ayon sa Pangangailangan”.
Originally conceived as a one-day activity, the Community PanTREE was extended for months to respond to the demands of the people for plants. Now, it is part of the regular activity of the office, under its urban greening program.
“There really is a demand for seedlings, with some of those requests coming from as far as Rizal and Bulacan area”, Director Caancan noted. “Thankfully, our supply of seedlings was augmented by the Bureau of Plant Industry (BPI) of the Department of Agriculture and a number of people who donated seedlings from their private nurseries, truly in the spirit of Bayanihan and mutual aid”.
“The Community PanTREE is one of DENR National Capital Region’s investments in our planet and we want other people to invest as well by planting in their backyards or whatever available space in their community”, Director Caancan said. “Trees make a good investment as the ecosystem services we derive from increased urban green spaces will not only benefit us but other people as well. All of us will enjoy improved air and water quality, cooler temperature, improved mental and physical wellbeing, food security, and urban biodiversity among other benefits”, she concluded.