The Bahay Kubo Project
The Bahay Kubo Project aims to promote positive nutrition awareness through hands on agriculture education at the local elementary school. The Bahay Kubo is a traditional Filipino building that is made from native materials such as bamboo, coconut lumber, and palm fronds. “Bahay Kubo” is also a native children’s song that highlights all the common fruits and vegetables grown in the Philippines. This project utilizes the construction of a student centered outdoor Agri-lab classroom. Students taking the agriculture course will be given a designated garden bed in the Agri-lab to cultivate and practice the agricultural skills being taught to them. Through a hands-on approach, students are more apt to retain the knowledge gained in the class. The main goal of the project is to promote Eco-friendly gardening techniques that students can do with their families in their homes. By participating in the Agri-lab, students and families gain the skills and confidence to grow their own food and take control of their nutritional health. The Bahay Kubo Project tackles nutritional and agricultural education at 3 different levels: students, parents, and teachers. The focus of the project is the students, who will participate in the Agri-lab classroom and cultivate their own gardens with teacher assistance. Parents will provide their own expertise in native construction and help the involved educators to create and execute a solid Agri-lab development plan. Teachers, of all levels, at the local school will attend a two-hour training session, in October, to strengthen their lesson integration and contextualization skills. They will also be taught how to effectively utilize the Agri-lab in their future lesson plans. By giving students the knowledge to grow their own food they can utilize the tremendous amount of natural resources the Philippines has to offer and live a higher quality of life.
The Agri-lab aims to be a focal point for learning in the community. Not only will it be the hub for agriculture and nutrition awareness, but it will also be a place for inspiration and guidance on living a green life and taking care of our Earth. Teachers from all levels will integrate the Agri-lab into their lesson plans providing students with a more subversive and active learning environment. While students gain knowledge in the core subjects of Math, Science, English, and Filipino they will also be exposed to agriculture and nutritional topics, which in turn will foster the growth of a more earth positive mindset. Not only will the Agri-lab be a huge part of the school community but the parent community as well. Parents are an asset that cannot be ignored. They contain the native knowledge of many generations that will shape the Agri-lab into being a culturally appropriate facility for the future. Parents make up the fabric that is the community. They are farmers, store owners, bakers, construction workers and have many other skills that can be contributed into the Agri-lab. For the facility to be relevant within this larger community, parents will be asked to share their knowledge to the students as guest speakers. With the help of the parents the Agri-lab curriculum will be contextualized and made relevant based on local, native examples and activities. The utilities and buildings within the Agri-lab will be constructed through the work of local laborers. Using local construction workers and plumbers will not only boost the local economy but provide a sense of ownership of the Agri-lab within the community. Parents and families will be able to walk by the lab and see all that they have accomplished. With this sense of ownership comes a sense of responsibility. Teachers, parents, and students will invest their time and effort into this project because they will be able to see the amazing product of all their effort and hard work and will take pride in what they have learned and accomplished.
This project will start at the beginning of December and run through the entire school year, to be then taken over and ran next year by the head of the Agriculture department. Currently the main student focus is 6th grade. However, as the Agri-lab grows, and the implementation gets smoother, there will be expansion into 5th grade as well. That way, as the 6th grade class graduates and the 5th grade class moves up the new 6th grade class can act as peer mentors toward the new 5th grade class. This is the pilot year for the project. A solid foundation is being set up to ensure a sturdy project will grow in the future. Throughout the initial implementation the head of the Agriculture department along with the Peace Corps Volunteers will be creating a utilization guide that will compile effective systems, procedures, activities, and lesson plans that all correspond to the Agri-lab itself. This will act as a living guide that will adapt and grow with the lab. This guide will be a reference point and a resource for future teachers and parents who want to be involved with the Agri-lab by relaying them exactly how to effectively use the lab. By training the teachers on how to effectively integrate and contextualize their lesson plans around the facilities and resources the school has to offer the Peace Corps Volunteer and Counterpart are creating a learning environment that is more invigorating and active. Teachers will be more aware of the rich learning resources their school has to offer such as the Agri-lab. This will make the Agri-lab a focal point in not only Agricultural learning but in all learning areas. Teachers will incorporate the Agri-lab into the lesson plans, when effective, making it a focal point in the learning process.