By Vina Medenilla
The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on many people. With the unseen enemy that is COVID-19, people have developed fear and anxiety out of uncertainty and helplessness over the situation, especially since being in quarantine means many cannot leave their houses.
This has prompted the public to explore new hobbies as healthy coping mechanisms, like baking and revamping their spaces.
Many individuals also started growing food in hopes of providing healthy produce for their families without having to leave home. Growing their food gives them a sense of security amid the fear and threats of global food shortages.
One of these people is Daisy Cu, 46, a gardener from Quezon City who began growing vegetables in plastic drums to strive for food security and self-sufficiency.
Having extra time during quarantine, she turned her spaces into a decorative but edible garden.
She has been nurturing ornamental plants and fruit-bearing trees several years prior to cultivating vegetables. Her diverse crops and plant collection are distributed in different areas of her residence, including the roof deck, facade, lanai, and empty outdoor spaces.
By producing vegetables like okra, saluyot, camote tops, bitter gourd, pechay, and eggplants, this urban gardener saves so much resources from not having to buy veggies and fruits in stores.
With the risk of the virus everywhere, farms and gardens have also served as safe places for many. Such is the case of a physics teacher named Noel Sablay. But instead of growing food in the city where he lives, he and his family traveled to Mindanao to “escape” the quarantine in the metro.
Their stay in the province enabled them to develop his wife’s property. With the knowledge and experience acquired from childhood, the couple succeeded in establishing Artemio’s Heritage Ecofarm, a farmland with a piggery, tilapia pond, poultry section, high-value crops, and structures to accommodate farm guests like a restaurant and training area.
“Occasionally I would also sleep on the farm for straight seven days and do farming myself. I also take charge of landscaping and beautification of the farm. My wife and son take charge of our e-farming side, which is the online promotion of our farm and services,” Sablay said.
On the farm, they offer fresh produce, processed items like gourmet tuyo, drip coffee, and homemade jam, plus on-site activities like camping and adventure trails.
The Sablay family left Manila with the intention of ‘escaping’ the quarantine that was imposed by the government to curb the spread of COVID-19. Little did they know, their visit to the province would also lead them to farming.
More than its health benefits, farming can also be a lucrative livelihood that can tide many families over despite the economic threats of COVID-19. Sablay’s farming journey is one proof.
Another family who moved to a farm to grow their own food at the onset of the pandemic is the Abrigo family from Camarines Norte, Bicol.
With the same goal as the growers mentioned above, the Abrigo family lived on a farm to prevent them from leaving the house during the quarantine period.
Al Abrigo, the mother of the family, said that they naturally grow herbs, root crops, and other vegetables on the farm.
Their decision to move to their relative’s farm is not only about the safety and security of the food that they consume, but it also helps them to show the young generation the importance of food production.
Farming can be a win-win solution for anyone who’s looking for an activity, a hobby, or a venture that they can rely on in times of crisis. With knowledge, proper implementation, and allocation of resources, growing food will certainly bear fruits in the end.