IN striving to improve in providing healthy meals for its workers, SolTuna embarked on establishing a vegetable growing project for 240 female workers living at the hostels in Noro.
The company provides one meal a day for its workers in the SolTuna Kitchen.
For girls to continue having healthy meals at the hostels, SolTuna decided to make backyard gardens for them at the vast open spaces in the hostel compound.
Any excess produce can be sold to the SolTuna Kitchen as extra income for the hostel ladies.
Suzy Aquino, Plant Operations Manager and Lemu Darcy, Principal Administration Officer, with approval from management, set to work.
The Agriculture Division in Munda initially gave hostel residents their first theory lesson on the importance of backyard gardening and the benefits attached to it.
A Kastom Garden worker was hired to start the nursery, help with first harvest and training the women.
SolTuna staff plant mainly vegetables such as Tsoi sum, saladeer, lettuce, pak choy and green peppers including okra and tomatoes for consumption and any excess to be sold to the factory.
The area is water-logged so raised beds are used and the garden is expanding with a target of 50 raised beds that will be managed by the girls themselves.
Hands-on training was provided.
At the beginning not everyone was interested but became so when harvest time came.
To sustain the project, the company needs the involvement of hostel residents so it decided to conduct a training for a core group to spearhead the management of the garden.
This was held 22 June where ladies learnt basic soil mixtures, nursery, germination, pricking, transplanting and mulching. It was very successful training and will be ongoing.
The company wants to involve girls with programs to equip and keep them occupied in their spare time with life-skill activities so that when they leave SolTuna they will be able to continue with what they have learnt here.
Other life-skill programs for them are sewing, making crafts and learning public speaking.
The hostel accommodates 240 ladies who all have access to these activities.