Jeffrey Toleran, a high school teacher from Davao City, exemplifies how an SM Foundation (SMFI) Kabalikat Sa Kabuhayan (KSK) on Sustainable Agriculture farmer-graduate put into good use all the learnings acquired from the said training program.
Teacher Toleran was designated as Gulayan Sa Paaralan Coordinator at Emilio Ramos National High School. With just a little knowledge on farming, Toleran exerted effort to equip himself with the skillsets needed to run their school’s gardening initiative—that’s when he joined SMFI’s KSK training program under Batch 211 in 2019.
“Nagsimula ako sa pinakapayak na layunin bilang isang Gulayan sa Paaralan Coordinator sa aming eskwelahan. Sumali ako sa KSK training ng SM Foundation upang matugunan ko nang maigi ang tungkulin ko sa paaralan [I started as coordinator of the Gulayan sa Paaralan of our school. I joined the KSK training of SM Foundation so I can respond to my duties well],” Toleran shared.
Carrying his learnings from the program, this teacher-farmer put up a Junior Farmers organization at their school to teach their learners about farming, “Nais kong ibahagi sa aking mga estudyante ang kaalaman na natutunan ko mula sa KSK ng SM. Nagpursigi akong turuan sila kung paano sisimulan ang pagtatanim hanggang sa pag-ani. Natutuwa ako dahil nakikita kong sila ay natututo at nagbabahagi rin ng kaalaman sa iba [I wanted to share with my students my learnings from KSK of SM. I taught my students the basics of planting and harvesting. It was fulfilling to see them learn and also share their knowledge with others].”
To his astonishment, some parents of his students also expressed their intentions to learn about farming. He gleefully accommodated the request of the parents, most of whom are under the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps). Toleran’s skills in farming was also commended by other schools as he is usually invited to conduct trainings on farming for teachers.
REAPING THE FRUITS OF HIS EFFORTS
With what he has cemented in their school in terms of their Gulayan sa Paaralan project, it’s no surprise that Teacher Toleran was recognized not just at the school level but also at the regional level.
“Hindi ko rin akalain na sa lahat ng aking nagawa ay gagawaran ako ng parangal at mananalo pa ang aking gulayan sa iba’t ibang kategorya. Ginawaran ako bilang Lunhaw Awardee at nakakuha ng [I never expected to earn awards from what I accomplished. My vegetable project won awards in different categories. I became a Lunhaw Awardee and] I won 1st place at the Cluster Level, 1st place sa Division Level, and 3rd place at the Regional Level Gulayan sa Paaralan,” he further narrated.
MOVING BEYOND HIS INITIAL PLANS
While continuing what he has started at their school, Toleran also expanded his platform and established the Barangay Angliongto Organic Practitioner Association (BAOPA) in his community.
“Ang BAOPA ay naglalayong makatulong sa ibang tao na mabigyan ng ideya sa pagtatanim at mahikayat na gawin ang home gardening na maaari nilang pagkunan ng pagkain para sa kanilang hapag kainan. Ang BAOPA ngayon ay rehistrado sa City Agriculture ng Davao City. Natutuwa ako na makitang hindi na ako nag-iisa sa pagtupad ng aking mga layunin. Mula sa ‘ako’, ngayon ay naging ‘kami’ na dahil sa asosasyong ito [The BAOPA intends to help spread the value of planting and to encourage home gardening to augment bringing food on the table. The BAOPA is registered with the City Agriculture of Davao City. I find it fulfilling to see others adopt our objectives],” he stated.
“Sa kasalukuyan patuloy ang aking mga programa na may kinalaman sa pagtatanim at hindi ako nagsasawang tumulong dahil nais ko pang ibahagi sa iba ang kahalagahan ng pagtatanim lalong-lalo na sa krisis na kinahaharap natin sa kasalukuyan [Currently, we continue with our planting program. I never tire of sharing to others the value of planting, especially now that we are in a crisis],” Toleran concluded.
SMFI’ KSK program aims to bring modern and sustainable farming skills in both rural and urban communities to help farmers have food on their table and have potential economic opportunities.
Currently, this social good program is executed in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA), DSWD, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), SM Supermalls, SM Markets, local government units, and other national government agencies.
To date, the program has trained more than 27,500 farmers from 3,370 barangays in 900 cities/municipalities.