AGREA kicked off its One Island Greening Movement activities in the Island of Gaspar in Marinduque, the Philippines last June 29, 2017.
Together with the "Greenest Person on the Planet", Matthias Gelber, and officers from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO Gasan), AGREA established a bamboo seedling nursery with the help of 45 4Ps beneficiaries (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, English: Bridging Program for the Filipino Family) on the grounds of Gaspar Elementary School.
"This bamboo nursery in Gaspar comes in as an initial kickoff for AGREA’s One Island Greening Movement this year," said Cherrie Atilano, AGREA’s President and Founding Farmer.
AGREA’s One Island Greening Movement aims to promote environmental protection and rehabilitation through programs encouraging climate change mitigation and commits to recruit as many volunteers and supporters to join environmental campaigns to make the impact more significant.
"Planting bamboo and trees is a vital step towards greening the island, but we have to secure a stable source of seedlings too," said Rafael Seño, AGREA’s Director of Rapport and Communications.
"AGREA is establishing the seedling facility as close to local communities as possible. This way, locals will be encouraged to do their part in protecting their environment," Seño added.
Bamboo Nursery in Gaspar Island
Bamboo has both environmental and economic benefits. It is a grass with an adverse root system which is effective in protecting soil from erosion and landslides. Its presence also helps establish a micro-climate which provides natural cooling for the surroundings.
ALL SMILES. AGREA's One Island Greening Movement advocates community work. Volunteers put vermicast and rice straw on the soil onto where bamboo seedlings will be planted.
Fertilizers and pesticides are not necessary for propagating bamboo. In fact, it even enriches the soil through Nitrogen sequestration.
Bamboo also effectively absorbs Carbon Dioxide from the air and releases 35% more Oxygen compared to the average for hardwood trees. Bamboo is also a naturally fast-growing species, with some varieties capable of growing 35 inches per day.
Economically, planting bamboo is a strategic move for the residents of Gaspar. As a fishing community, Gaspar is in frequent need of bamboo for the residents’ fishing boats. Instead of always having to purchase bamboo from the mainland, why not grow their own?
Bamboo is a good material for housing, especially for houses by the sea. And since bamboo is fast-growing, it is a highly renewable resource.
Gaspar Island is a beneficiary of The Garden Classroom Program of AGREA. The rehabilitation initiatives for the school’s garden was started a year ago but was unfortunately destroyed during Typhoon Nina. AGREA had also recently visited Gaspar Island and distributed water filtration systems to address the community’s need for clean drinking water.
A message from the Planet’s Greenest Man
Coming from his strong advocacy for saving the planet, and the recent birth of his daughter, Matthias Gelber shared with the people of Gaspar the importance of protecting the environment for the benefit of generations to come.
"We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Now, I need to work even more to protect the Mother Earth for my daughter," Gelber said.
Though short on his arsenal of Tagalog words, Matthias, with a little translation help, promised to return to Gaspar to work further with the locals.
"I know most of you have a heart for Mother Earth, because most of you believe that it is important to protect Mother Earth," he said.
"This is my goal, I want to learn to speak good Tagalog, to be a good father to my daughter, and be able to work more with all Filipinos."
AGREA will return to Gaspar on November 2017 to facilitate the expansion of the nursery and transplanting of the seedlings. There is already a plan for 45 beneficiaries of 4Ps to be assigned land areas for cultivation, with planting materials, seeds, and training to be provided by AGREA.