By Vina Medenilla
Joanne C. De Guzman, 34, took a liking to gardening after leaving her job as a music and arts teacher to be a full-time mom.
De Guzman began seeking comfort from plants at a time when she needed them the most. It was in 2018 when she and her husband agreed that she should stay at home to care for their four children.
Although she loves the idea of being with her family, this major life transition caused her to feel as though she was slowly being engulfed by depression.
Because of this, she looked for ways to distract herself, such as watching videos and reading up on edible gardening, which soon led to her establishing a home garden.
“It’s as if I can feel Mother Earth smiling upon me. Gardening is so fulfilling that I can see myself doing it for the rest of my life,” she said.
The heirloom grower
De Guzman is mainly fascinated by heirloom varieties of crops like okra, eggplants, tomatoes, corn, and leafy green vegetables.
Heirloom crops, according to her, are grown from saved seeds that “have not been crossed for at least 50 years or so.” She noted, however, that others consider 30-year-old seeds as an heirloom.
The grower also cultivates Open Pollinated Varieties (OPV), or those that are pollinated by natural elements like wind and animals. “They are usually hybrids or new varieties, but are stable,” De Guzman said.
Snake gourd (Trichosanthes cucumerina), a vegetable known for its green long fruits with white stripes on its skin, and multicolored Aztec corn are two of the unusual crops that can be found in her green space.
Her 200 sqm garden includes 15 different-sized garden beds. She also devoted space for oyster mushrooms.
“[Our family] learned how to make mushroom spawn and fruiting bags. [We] successfully inoculate spawns into the fruiting bags and grow them. Although it was a series of trial and error, we achieved a lot of wisdom from the losses.”
Making money from her garden
She does not only find peace in gardening, but selling seeds and produce also provides her family with extra cash.
This gardener earns around P3,000 to P5,000 a month, mostly from heirloom seeds that cost between P35 to P50 per pack.
Vegetables, mushrooms, fish amino acid (FAA) fertilizer, plants, and specialty seedlings like pomegranate are her other sources of income from the garden.
New beginnings can be daunting at times. The sudden shift from being a career woman to a full-time homemaker was difficult for De Guzman at first, but it led her to plants that gave her newfound hope, purpose, and taught her life lessons.
Photos from Joanne C. De Guzman