Members of the UP Jeepney Drivers’ Association in Quezon City are now ready to shift gears and start a new venture to support their livelihood amid the pandemic.

This is after receiving free urban agriculture starter kits from the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) under the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

“Matagal na kaming walang pasada, walang mapagkaabalahan at mapagkakitaan. Noong nalaman naming namimigay ng libreng mga buto ng halaman ang DA, nagbaka-sakali kami para may mapagkaabalahan habang nasa bahay,” a member of the association said. (We’ve been out of business for a long time now, we do not have work and a source of income. When we learned that DA is giving away free seeds, we tried our luck so that we’ll have something to do at home.)

“Malaking tulong din ito sa panahong tumubo na ang mga halaman, may mapagkukunan na kami ng gulay, sigurado pang ligtas at malinis dahil kami mismo ang magtatanim sa sarili naming lugar,” he added. (This is a big help once the plants grow, as we’d have a source of vegetables which are sure to be safe and clean since we planted it ourselves.)

Following safety protocols and restrictions, urban agriculture starter kits containing vegetable seedlings, trays, and other planting materials were distributed among representatives of the group.

Around 500 out of the 1,200 starter kits allotted for the association were claimed by the members during the first day of distribution. The rest will be given to the other members in the coming days.

The urban agriculture project of the DA’s “Ahon Lahat, Pagkaing Sapat (ALPAS) Laban sa COVID-19,” better known as the “Plant, Plant, Plant” Program, aims to ensure that safe food sources are available, accessible, and affordable to communities with limited resources for food production.