BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO
During the previous year, there has been a rise in the number of urban gardeners. This is because the COVID-19 pandemic posed a threat to the nation’s food security with people being confined to their homes or granted only limited mobility.
To address this issue, the Department of Agriculture (DA) strongly encouraged the public to start growing food at home. This initiative was met with positive feedback as many people turned to urban gardening to foster food security.
Agriculture Online had the opportunity to interview several gardeners and learn about their journey towards becoming food secure. Here are five articles published on the site that tell the stories of people who turned to urban gardening and why they enjoy it:
It allows gardeners to be creative with their setup
Daisy Cu, 46, is a resident from Quezon City who began growing vegetables in their residence as an attempt at food security and self-sufficiency. She has been tending to ornamentals and fruit trees for years. But with the pandemic, her goal has shifted to providing food for their family in a decorative, yet an edible garden that incorporates ornamental and food crops.
She was available to achieve this goal using blue plastic drums which serve as containers for her plants. There, she grows okra, eggplant, alugbati, kamote, herbs, and more.
But aside from fostering food security, Cu also wanted to show that anyone can engage in gardening, even without a green thumb.
It supports a healthy lifestyle
With people confined to their homes because of the pandemic, they now have more time on their hands to spend time with their family and loved ones or start a new productive hobby. This is what allowed Roxander Maynigo and his wife Jo-Ann to build an urban garden on their third-floor balcony.
Their lush, edible garden is abundant in fruits, vegetables, and medicinal plants which they tended to since the onset of the pandemic. All the family members help in watering the plants with rice water every morning after their morning meditation.
But aside from providing the Maynigos with a stable source of food during the pandemic, the edible garden has also supported the lifestyle of the family who considers themselves vegan.
It can be a source of income
Many people were greatly affected by the pandemic since it cost them their jobs and sources of livelihood. While others have found other means to cope with the situation, there are some who turned to urban gardening as a way to earn a profit.
Take, for instance, Marcelo Alivia, a teacher of Lucena City National High School residing in Quezon province. When he lost his side jobs as a part-time coach, swimming instructor, and basketball referee, he decided to plant in a vacant lot next to their house as a way to relieve his boredom. Little did he know that this would be a new profitable venture.
After a few months, Alivia’s garden flourished with a variety of vegetables which were initially for the family’s consumption alone. But after seeing his progress, their neighbors and co-teachers opt to pay for the vegetables that they provide.
It’s a great way to bond with family
Gardening is known to be an activity that’s suitable for all ages. For families, it can be a great way for them to spend time together as well as teach children the importance of food as well as some values that come with growing food.
Jacie Buenafe Libunao, a housewife from Quezon City sees gardening as an opportunity to spend time with her two kids and teach them how to eat healthy.
With the help of her husband, Ross Libunao, Jacie has grown pechay as well as other vegetables for their personal consumption. And in caring for her plants, her two children, Jasmine, 10, and Justine, 7, help her with watering her crops as well as transferring them indoors when the heat would be too intense.
It offers various innovative approaches
There are various challenges in urban gardening. One common problem is the lack of space in urban areas. But luckily, there are a lot of ways that urban gardening can be carried out according to the gardener’s preference.
One urban gardener is Picoy Cruz, a government physician specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in the Philippine General Hospital who decided to go the soilless route so that he’ll have a way to grow food without having to worry about space.
He used a hydroponics technique called Nutrient Film Technique (NFT), which uses a pump to deliver the solution to the plants while a drain pipe recycles unused nutrient solution, to create a farm on his condominium’s window in Manila.
These urban gardeners have realized the value of growing their food at home. And aside from being food secure, they also enjoy the various benefits that urban gardening brings. Hopefully, more people will also see the advantages of urban gardening and how it should be promoted especially with the pandemic still posing a threat to our lives.
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