By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

When travelling along major roads, drivers and passengers alike take note of the traffic islands located in the center to regulate the flow of traffic between vehicles that travel back and forth from certain destinations. 

These traffic islands are usually made of concrete and have road signs to signal which way to go. Other times, these are planted with trees and shrubs for beatification purposes or to promote a clean environment, with the greenery absorbing carbon dioxide from the vehicles. 

However, the city of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur in Mindanao has steered clear of the usual greenery and decided to grow a healthier selection on their traffic islands. 

In Barangay Poblacion (Bahbah), Prosperidad, the center traffic islands are planted with vegetables such as pechay, onion, kangkong, eggplant, alugbati, and okra. 

According to a Facebook post by Rezel May Colongan Goloran, the project started out small when Lilibeth Herbolingo, a road maintenance personnel working for their local government unit, began planting the vegetables in a traffic island situated in front of a bus terminal.

Goloran’s Facebook post sharing the green initiative first done by a road maintenance personnel.

Goloran shared that Herbolingo did this using the seeds that were given to the locals by their LGU during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) when most people were required to stay at home to decrease the chances of spreading the COVID-19 virus to others. 

Once Herbolingo had the chance to go out, she began sowing the seeds on the small portion of idle land.

Lilibeth Herbolingo started by planting the vegetable seeds she received from their LGU during the ECQ.

Eventually, the LGU of Prosperidad became aware of her actions and decided to follow suit, but this time involving more locals in the initiative. 

“Our market supervisor and employees were keen on the idea, which is why they were eager to start growing vegetables on the traffic islands. They were supervised by Evelyn Monato, the municipal economic enterprise supervisor for Prosperidad,” said a representative from the LGU. 

Another reason why the LGU of Prosperidad wanted to pursue this venture is because it can also promote agri-tourism in the area. 

Gaining approval from the city’s mayor, Frederick Mark Mellana, the city’s employees and other locals have since then planted the vegetables mentioned in the traffic islands in other areas aside from the one where Herbolingo started. 

The LGU’s representative also said that the employees and locals are also the ones responsible for caring for the vegetables so these can thrive in their current location

The front of Prosperidad’s Integrated Bus Terminal has a traffic island that grows pechay.

When the vegetables are ready to be harvested, these will be distributed to the locals of the city for personal consumption or other purposes.

“Having our locals tend to the vegetables themselves teaches them the importance of growing their own food as well as creating a source of income during the pandemic,” the LGU’s representative said. 

Aside from seeing a sustainable way to teach the locals how to grow their own food and promoting agri-tourism in the city, the economic sector of Prosperidad also views this a way for the locals, especially those who have been struggling since the ECQ was imposed, to earn money, thus keeping the economy of the city afloat. 

Ultimately, the initiative by Barangay Poblacion (Bahbah) in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur is a unique idea that involves numerous residents in urban gardening.