DENR National Capital Region has launched its first-ever “Edible Landscaping Contest” on Friday, 22 October 2021, at the DENR-NCR Technical Services Compound in North Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.

Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan, together with her Assistant Regional Directors, Dr. Al O. Orolfo (Management Services), Engr. Ignacio R. Almira, Jr. (Technical Services), and Martin Despi (Special Concerns), led the launching of the contest dubbed, “Gulayan sa Pasko”.

Heads and representatives of the different divisions, sections, and units of the regional office witnessed the launch of the contest which aims to promote sustainable urban farming to officials and employees of the regional office.

Per contest rules, employees will be divided into teams and assigned to a planting area. They will then design, prepare and plant the area with vegetable ingredients of the popular Filipino dish Pinakbet like Talong, Okra, Sitaw, Kalabasa, Kamatis, etc.

The participating teams will be judged according to the quantity and quality of their produced vegetables, their resourcefulness in using recyclable and compostable materials in their respective planting area, and creativity in landscaping and maximizing space among others.

Director Caancan said she is confident the contest will inspire officials and employees to set up edible gardens themselves in whatever available space they have at home. “This is but one of the many ways management is helping our employees to destress and improve their health and wellbeing during these trying times”, she said.

“There had been many studies confirming the positive impact of green spaces on both our mental and physical health”, Director Caancan explained. The health benefits, she says, “range from stress reduction, quicker healing, and improved concentration.”

“Our gardens, no matter how small, allow us to work the earth, to witness life in its wonderful cycles,” Director Caancan stated. “Working with the soil, breathing in the scent of plants and flowers, and being sensitive to all the minute interactions between the living and non-living components of your garden—overall, the feeling of oneness with the earth—is therapeutic to most people”, she adds.

“Plants also help improve air quality in your home, office, and in public spaces”, Assistant Director Orolfo said. The friendly competition, likewise, “is a great way of promoting camaraderie and teamwork among our employees, in creating synergy”, he adds.

The “Gulayan sa Pasko” will run from October to December this year, says Assistant Director Almira. The fresh produce will be distributed among the employees and to other DENR employees through its flagship urban greening initiative “Community PanTREE”.

“We are hoping that all officials and employees of the regional office will actively participate, as it aims to promote a healthy lifestyle and environmental awareness at the same time”, Assistant Director Despi said.