By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

Estrella Belmonte Agliam, or “Star” to her family and friends, is a lively housewife who makes sure that her family, consisting of five children, are well taken care of. Recently, she has become interested in growing her own food just to see if she can.

“I do not have any professional background when it comes to vegetable gardening. I was just really interested to try,” she said. 

From the seeds of the vegetables they consumed, Star started her own vegetable garden in their Cavite residence on March 9. 

At first, she admitted that she wasn’t sure whether or not the seeds would sprout. But over time, she noticed that the vegetables were growing. Soon enough, she saw her first bitter gourd, known as ampalaya in Filipino, blooming in her garden.

Star, along with her family and friends, became excited when her plants started bearing fruit. The ampalaya was the first one to bear fruit under Star’s care.

Star was not the only one who was elated to see produce growing in her vegetable garden. Her children shared in their mother’s victory and even her eldest daughter, Mariella Elaine Agliam, decided to follow in her footsteps and started growing her own food.

“Whenever my plants are sprouting new leaves and are blooming flowers, I ask my eldest daughter to take a picture of it and show it to the rest of our family. Little did I know that was actually inspiring her to grow her own plants as well,” Star said. 

Several days after Star’s plants began to bear fruit, Mariella started to plant tomato seedlings which have been thriving well under her care as it already began growing its true leaves.

True leaves are growing from Mariella’s tomato seedlings.

Presently, Star grows tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, calamansi, chili, garlic, and kangkong in her garden which she learned how to care for through trial and error. She and her family are also trying to grow an avocado tree. 

“During this pandemic, growing my own vegetable plants made me busy, it helped me cope with what’s happening everyday. And throughout the entire process, it made me feel at ease that I get to do something with my time,” Star shared. 

Being a housewife and a mother of five kids, Star knows that she must always keep an eye on her family to make sure that they’re healthy and happy. She applies this same approach when caring for her plants. 

“I always check if there are pests whenever I’m watering my plants. I actually look after my plants daily and I talk to them, asking if they are okay. Just like how I would check on my children,” she said.  

Star’s family benefits from her vegetable gardening since they get to eat fresh produce whenever available. Their friends also get to share in the bounty since Star is more than willing to give any surplus from her garden to keep it from going to waste. 

After seeing her efforts bear fruit, Star hopes to continue growing produce in her garden and eventually learn more if given the chance.

Being a beginner, Star’s efforts are done through trial and error. However, she expressed her eagerness to learn and improve in gardening.

Not only does Star get to have the satisfaction of growing her food but she has also found another way that they can bond as a family while promoting healthy eating. 

This article appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s July to August 2020 issue.