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Health And Family

Save those seeds

HEART AND MIND - Paulynn Sicam - The Philippine Star

The initiative to collect fruit seeds and plant them is novel and it is vital to the preservation of life on the planet.

You must have read on Facebook, Twitter or Messenger the call to save, wash, dry and sow the seeds of the fruits you eat this summer, and create forests of fruit trees in empty lots and fields around us.  Of unknown origin, it has gone viral in just a few hours, having been forwarded so quickly and so often.

The message reads: “Soon the season of fruits like mango, durian, rambutan, langsat (lanzones), duku, mangosteen, jack fruit, etc. will be here. My request to all of us is to NOT throw the seeds in your rubbish bin, but INSTEAD to wash them, dry them (in the sun) and pack it in newspaper and keep it in your car. Whenever you go out and find an open barren land while travelling, be it on a village road, on an empty motorway, throw these seeds. They will germinate easily in the coming monsoon. If with this simple act, we can contribute even a single tree each season to our world, our mission of greening this world would be successful.”

According to the message, the Thai government has been promoting this aggressively for a while now and “the number of fruit trees in the wild have multiplied many times over, particularly in the Northern districts of Thailand.” The reader is therefore enjoined to emulate the Thais and “spread abundance in nature in this simple yet effective way and contribute back to our next generations.”

What a wonderful idea it is to create forests of fruit trees that everyone can participate in. It is casual and painless, but exciting to be part of the greening of the country without having to go out of one’s way.  The idea is that, in a few years, much of the idle lands in the country will be host to trees that not only bear fruit, but also provide shade and joyful play opportunities for the coming generations.

Already, there is a critical voice from one who knows agriculture that throwing sun-dried seeds on empty lots is not the way to propagate fruit trees. And there is also the matter of infringement on private land and the trouble it would cause property owners to have to get permission from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cut down unwanted trees when they decide to develop property into, say, a concrete urban jungle. 

But I wouldn’t worry about those for now.  The initiative to collect fruit seeds and plant them is novel and it is vital to the preservation of life on the planet. It makes people aware of what they can do to save our environment. And the reaction on social media has been more than positive.

Not everyone can go to a bald mountainside and plant seedlings that may or may not survive, since they need to be watered regularly so they can grow into a forest that we badly need. But everyone who eats mangoes, rambutan, papaya, chico, star apple, lanzones and other summer fruits can create a forest by saving the seeds, drying them, and scattering them where they can grow wild when the rains come. Easy-peasy.

To be sure, not all the seeds will germinate. Some will fall by the wayside and die. But there are those that will find good soil where they will take root and bear fruit — our contribution to the survival of the next generation of Filipinos, and of the planet.

There is nothing that grit and determination cannot accomplish. I once wrote a story about how Bulacan became a mango-producing province. In the Seventies, Sylvia Muñoz Ordoñez, a young development worker with a vision, encouraged the local women who were members of a cooperative, to plant one million mango seeds as part of a livelihood program.

The coop didn’t have funds to buy the seeds so the women gathered them everywhere where people ate or sold mangoes, or dumped the inedible rotting fruits. It didn’t matter what kind of mango seeds they gathered — the giant carabao, the small pajo, the roundish Indian, or the foreign-looking apple mango — these were planted and nurtured until they bore fruit and began providing families with an alternative livelihood. There wasn’t much science to the initiative, but the women were inspired, determined and driven.

It is only right to plant a tree in these times when the environment badly needs greening, and the earth is choking in the pollution and we need the oxygen that trees so generously breathe out.

Trees are among the most giving and most inspiring of God’s creations. They absorb the toxins in the environment and clean the air we breathe.  With their generous branches, they give us food and shade. Their trunks are used as lumber for our homes and industry, and their soaring heights provide us with healing through forest bathing.

Finally, trees show us how to become better versions of ourselves, with the courage to stand tall and persevere, bending with the wind but staying rooted, in the face of great odds.

FRUITS

PLANTS

SEEDS

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