ARK – End hunger through vegetable exchanges

ARK – End hunger through vegetable exchanges

Photo: © ARK

Self-sufficiency of Philippine communities through farming in backyards

Ayesha Vera-Yu, with her award-winning organisation ARK (Advancement for Rural Kids) from the Philippines, has shown that it is possible to provide children with a nutritious school meal every day thanks to the help of entire village communities. One million meals have been provided in this way since 2009. With the pandemic, however, ARK had to adapt its approach. The schools were closed and the food situation got worse, not only for the children but for everyone in the villages. 

The new approach is called Feed Back: the programme supports entire village communities in a structured way to become self-sufficient. The focus is particularly on rural communities, which are especially affected by poverty and hunger – about 75% of the poor population live in rural areas. Families are encouraged to grow vegetables in their backyards. The vegetables are then traded at community food exchanges. No money is needed. The principle: all participants bring 3 different vegetables from their own gardens and return with 20+ food items. This is enough for 3-4 meals for a family of 4-5 people.

With the idea of the community “vegetable exchange”, ARK is creating a sustainable, self-sustaining solution against hunger in rural areas. The 16-week programme is implemented directly on site. After only five weeks, the first vegetables can be harvested and exchanged. Above all, the whole programme is meant to be fun for the communities, and joint events are organised or additional incentives such as raffles and the chance to win great prizes are offered.

ARK’s programme has four main goals:

  • Productive backyards to provide food for families.
  • New sources of income through the sale of surplus produce.
  • Strengthening the sense of community through joint planning and implementation.
  • Long-term self-sufficiency through own products and new businesses.

Feed Back involves the whole local community. It shows that through a common infrastructure, exchange and sale of produce, people can support each other and ensure a sufficient nutrition for all. Half of the costs are raised by the communities, the other half is contributed by ARK – a one-time contribution of about $25 per family.


Project Evaluation

😀 1. PEOPLE 93%
Does the project solve pressing societal challenges?
🌍 2. PLANET 80%
Does the project protect our environment and conserve natural resources?
Is the solution innovative, inspiring and has the power to drive real change?
🙌🏼 4. WIN-WIN 70%
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Contribution to the 17 Global Goals

Zero Hunger

Achieving food security on the community level through backyard farming

No Poverty

New sources of income in underserved regions and improved social cohesion

Gender Equality

Empowering women through income model which in particular addresses women

Life on Land

Reduction of chemical fertilizer and pesticides through organic farming in the communities

Responsible consumption and production

Support of a circular economy through decentralized food production

Partnerships for the Global Goals

New forms of partnerships through the vegetable exchange on the community level

Decent Work and Economic Growth

Self-employment accessible for all villagers (e.g. backyard food production)

Good Health and Well-Being

Healthy, regular and well balanced nutrition for all villagers

Reduced Inequalities

The most vulnerable families within a village benefit most from the programme




Photos: © ARK