By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Sweden is a country in Europe with numerous coastal islands and inland lakes, along with mountains covered in both ice and snow. Due to the cold temperature brought about by being close to the North Pole, Sweden experiences long, and sometimes harsh, winters. 

Marichu Mallannao, who is originally from Isabela, Philippines, is familiar with the Swedish weather since she works in a home for the aged as a health care worker in the Nordic country.

Two months ago, she decided to build her own greenhouse because the cold makes it difficult to grow plants outside.

She planted vegetables in her garden and in the greenhouse.

“I decided to do it because I was inspired by the people here who have their own greenhouse. Eventually, I thought that if I also have one, I would be able to grow different kinds of vegetables which I can save for winter when going out to the market is hard to do,” she said. 

Currently, Mallannao grows chili, kangkong, zucchini, squash, and more. She also grows fruits such as strawberries and bananas, along with ornamental plants. 

“Seeing greenery and flowers blooming around me helps take away stress,” she said. 

Prior to gardening in Sweden, Mallannao admitted that she didn’t have any knowledge of it when she was still in the Philippines. 

“Back in the Philippines, I tried farming and gardening but no matter what I planted, it wouldn’t seem to grow,” the health worker said. 

However, Mallannao shared that she’s successful when it comes to raising livestock. Aside from growing vegetables, she also cares for chickens, turkeys, and ducks.

The health care worker also cares for poultry.

After her night shift duty, she would sleep for one to two hours before she would get up and about to keep her plants safe from weeds as well as to feed her livestock. 

“During my rest day, I’m not fond of going out. I like to spend my time planting and taking care of my livestock. I also have a lot to do inside the house and I don’t like letting time pass by without getting to finish a task,” she said. 

Mallannao refrains from using chemicals in insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. 

“I only use fruit peelings and cow manure as compost for my plants because it’s also safer for the environment,” the health worker said.

Mallannao also gets eggs and stocks them along with her garden’s produce for personal consumption.

Due to her success in growing her own food, she said that gardening with love and enjoying the process can bear fruitful results while also embodying a positive attitude. 

Through growing her own food, not only does Mallannao have a source of sustenance during the long winters of Sweden but she also gets to save money while consuming chemical-free produce.

This appeared in Agriculture Monthly’s January to February 2021 issue.