News Release

Urban Gardening Helps Lipa Family Stay Self-Reliant

Karl Gonzales of Sto. Tomas Ward (congregation), Lipa Philippines Stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lives in an urban area with not enough space and rich soil to start a backyard garden.

Nevertheless, he never let it deter him from following the counsel of the leaders of the Church to be self-reliant and to prepare for future uncertainties.


Against all odds, he started mushroom farming in July 2019 with his wife, Diana, and his three small children.

Soon after, he started collecting vegetable scraps from a nearby market for his vermiculture. The challenge to take this endeavor to the next level kept him busy looking for other solutions. To enrich the soil, he utilized the dry manure of carabaos. He learned to improvise as well, shunning any excuse that could deter him from his goal.

“We only had 100 pieces of fruiting bags back then, and our initial harvest was sufficient enough for our family consumption,” Karl said.

Today, he shares some of the harvests to their neighbors in need and makes a good profit as well. What’s more? His children see backyard gardening as a fun activity to do.

No Work, No Pay

Before shifting to mushroom farming, Karl used to work as a sales team leader in a certain pre-need insurance company on a no-work, no-pay basis. With the need to provide for his young, growing family, he challenged himself to look for other means to earn an income.

With his budding mushroom business on the side, he spared no time learning about other plants and vegetables he could grow to earn more.

“One would think that strawberries grow only in Baguio. With study and practice, I also started to grow our own strawberries,” he shared.

Share to Help

With little knowledge on running a business, Karl enrolled in Starting and Growing My Business class, which was a free course provided by their stake as part of the Church’s self-reliant program. This allowed him to grow his budding mushroom business as well as impart his knowledge to help others.

Gonzales shared that before the pandemic started, he has been sharing his farming skills to other members in his ward. He realized that money is just a piece of paper at this time of need, especially when one cannot use it to buy food because of food scarcity or closed stores.

Aside from helping other Latter-day Saint members, Karl teaches his family to be prepared always, plant their own food, store what they can store, save, and share their blessings. It is his goal to teach and assist more families in his ward on how to start backyard gardening.

Continuous Flow of Income

Despite the pandemic, Karl revealed that he is still able to provide for his family’s needs through selling their mushrooms, fruiting bags, strawberry plants, blue ternate, and soil mixture. Additionally, his produce is helping other families in their neighborhood.

By learning to be self-reliant, he is confident that his family will continue to have food on their table because he knows how to grow their own food. He shared that he grows Malabar spinach (alugbati), Moringa or horseradish (malunggay), snow cabbage (pechay), sweet potato (camote), and papaya in their garden.

When asked about his husband’s gardening efforts, Diana shared, “I sustain and support my husband. He has an indestructible belief in the principles of self-reliance. I know that he is inspired by God to save and preserve our family.”

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