With the threat of Covid-19, everyone is advised to stay home. This isolation paved way for many of us to have time for new hobbies and other creative pursuits.
One of the most popular both offline and online is gardening. The #plantitos and #plantitas will lead you to different social media groups and communities, where people are sharing ideas, plants, and tips where to find gardening tools.
But gardening is more than a trend, though. Growing plants at home, especially fruit-bearing ones and vegetables, have social and environmental benefits.
To help get more people interested in gardening and raise awareness on food security, Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) and the Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) have co-produced a web series called Kalye Mabunga.
This online shows tackles a wide array of gardening topics such as herbs that thrive in an urban setting, garden maintenance, and recycling used materials into gardening supplies.
Here are some young gardeners who have learned a thing or two from this show and shared what benefits they are reaping from this new found hobby.
1. Urban farmers have a steady source of food
Michelle Gatdula says food security was a factor when she got into urban farming in 2016. “The garden-to-table approach has been great for me and my family, because we literally have an unlimited supply of fresh fruits and veggies all the time,” the Manila-based HR manager says. Gatdula is also into ornamental plants, and slowly built an “indoor jungle” when the lockdown was declared last March.
2. You can ensure the quality of produce by growing your own food
One downside with mass-produced crops is that they can contain chemicals to prolong shelf life while in supermarkets. This is among the reasons why Charlie Desales of Antipolo City grows his own organic lettuce, pechay, arugula, kinchay, kale, tomato, peppers, eggplant, and cucumber at home.
“I prefer to have our own supply of vegetables because I can be sure it is clean, with no pesticides that could harm both our bodies and the environment,” he explained. A marine resource consultant, Charlie is into aquaponics, a type of gardening wherein one can grow plants in water medium.
3. You build a sense of responsibility
JM Banzuela of Kawit, Cavite says being a plantita entails hard work, which can result to both success and failures. “Even though some of my produce don’t survive, that’s how I learned to get better,” she quips. “It never ceases to amaze me how, from tiny seeds, I’d see my plants grow bigger and bigger every day. I find a sense of fulfillment in that.”
4. You can earn money from gardening
Marie Claire Hernandez of Calamba, Laguna turned her succulents-collecting hobby into a business. “I started buying and selling at first, then I got into propagating,” she says. Providentially, the boost in plant collection during the pandemic has helped her sustain their family’s income amid the health crisis. “It has helped us because most of our family’s businesses had to lie low due to quarantine restrictions,” Hernandez explains.
5. It can do wonders for your mental health
When Aris John Trinidad first got into urban gardening in 2017, he considered it as a means of coping during a very stressful time in his life. “I needed something to help me zone out – and plants were the answer,” the freelance clothing designer says.
Living in a studio unit with a floor-to-ceiling, east-facing window, complete with a small plant box on the façade of the unit, he began tending to plants to keep himself productive. “I can say that this hobby has helped me stay mentally healthy, especially during this crisis,” he says.
More “plantfluencers” will share their stories on how they developed their backyard farms, as well as best practices, on Kalye Mabunga.
It can be viewed every Friday at 8 p.m. till Sept. 25 at www.facebook.com/SmartCommunities.