From adversity to abundance: The triumph of mothers in urban gardening


Mheryll with a fellow KSK famer in SM City San Lazaro’s Urban Garden

The world is steadily redefining how cities are deemed. Through the transformative power of urban gardening, cities are no longer concrete jungles but vibrant oases, teeming with life greenery. 

As urban gardening takes root, it allows people to rediscover the bountiful benefits of connecting with greenery, even in the heart of urban environments. Two homemakers, Mheryll Ignacio and Jennie Fernandez proved just this as they completed SM Foundation’s Kabalikat sa Kabuhayan’s urban gardening program. 

Nourishing the community, one harvest at a time

Mheryll, a KSK graduate from SM City San Lazaro, found newfound empowerment after completing the program.

Mheryll (fourth from left) and her KSK batchmate shares their harvests from SM City San Lazaro’s Urban Garden

“Gusto ko po talagang matuto ng iba’t ibang paraan para kumita,” she said. Excited and happy, she joined the KSK without hesitation as soon as she learned about it from their barangay leaders.”

Confident in her ability to provide healthy meals despite rising food prices, Mheryll relied on the urban garden she cultivated with her community.

“Katulad ngayon, napaka mahal ng bilihin... Pag tumataas ang bilihin, hindi ka masyadong mag aalala dahil kampante ka’t alam mong meron kang pananim na masasandalan,” she said.

Mheryll aims to share her urban gardening knowledge with other mothers in their community.

“Maganda pa dahil masustansya ang maipapakain mo para sa pamilya mo,” she added.

The training served as the foundation of her goals, empowering her to embrace entrepreneurship and become an additional provider for her family.

“Higit sa lahat, puwedeng pwede mo rin ibenta ‘yung mga inani mo... Dahil dito, nagkaroon ako ng power na tumayo sa sarili ko dahil meron akong alam na alternatibong pangkabuhayan ng aming pamilya," she said.

As she reaps the benefits of KSK, Mheryll aims to share her urban gardening knowledge with other mothers in their community: “Gusto ko rin pong yakagin sila at sabihin na masayang magtanim lalo na pag nalaman niyo kung paano ito gawing pangkabuhayan.”

Cultivating hope

Another KSK urban farmer, Jennie from East Ortigas faced the challenging aftermath of her online business closure due to the pandemic. 

Jennie, an SM Foundation KSK urban farmer, joins the market tour in SM East Ortigas to learn about marketing and supplying fresh produce.

“Gusto ko po talagang bumalik sa pagne-negosyo na malapit sa puso ko,” she said, seeking a sustainable and personally fulfilling venture. Through KSK’s urban gardening initiative, she acquired the skills needed for cultivating vegetables in their urban community and rediscovered her entrepreneurial spirit as an urban farmer. 

Together with her batchmates from the program, they envisioned establishing a cooperative to formalize their business, opening doors to new entrepreneurial opportunities and creating a sense of empowerment among the participants. 

Some of the KSK farmers tend their urban garden in Sto. Cristo Elementary School, another urban garden cultivated by KSK beneficiaries

“In the next two years, gusto po naming i-institutionalize ang urban gardening sa aming subdivision para rin po makatulong sa mga kapitbahay naming—those na wala o nawalan ng trabaho,” she said. 

As the homeowner’s association president, she also looks forward to sharing her new skills so that houses in their village would be filled with produce they can always rely on.

Both Lisa and Jennie shared how they see gardening in a whole new light. For them, it goes beyond putting food on the table but also serves as a catalyst for empowerment and community collaboration.