But there it is, an estimated 80-square-meter vegetable garden with all kinds of plants, healthy and organic, grown by people in one of the biggest informal settlements in Manila. The garden not only provides food for the families in the village of Baseco, but also to customers from other parts of the capital.

The vegetables are grown by 600 members of Kabalikat sa Pagpapaunlad ng Baseco (Allies for Improving Baseco), an organization formed by the informal settlers in 2001 at a time when the 52-hectare port area was about to be zoned for socialized housing. Last year, Kabalikat received P100,000 ($2,300 USD) from Asian Bridge, a Korean NGO, and used the money to buy the land for the garden, vegetable seedlings and mangrove saplings.

For the people of Baseco, having their own vegetable gardens provides more than just food security. The organization also functions as a savings bank, the money from which will go toward the purchase of the land they have long dreamed to have.

“The members give a minimum of 23 U.S. cents each week. The group keeps the savings for them, which would be used to pay for the land here,” said Mayeth Betarolo, secretary of Kabalikat.

Read more at nextcity.org: Growing a Nest Egg Through Urban Gardening.

This photo is part of the Informal City Dialogues, featuring stories and insights from six rapidly urbanizing cities around the world. 

Informal sector informal city nextcity urbanism manila informal settlements philippines urban agriculture gardens urban gardening

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