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Think green

(The Philippine Star) - May 1, 2021 - 12:00am

Sen. Cynthia Villar is so correct in encouraging urban gardening, and saying that community gardens can supplement the community pantries that have sprouted all over the metro and even up to other parts of the country.

Columnist Cito Beltran is also so correct in encouraging plantitos and plantitas to grow edible plants and herbs instead of spending thousands on ornamentals like monsteras (I saw one variegated plant being sold online for P80,000!), which seems to be all the rage these days.

We don’t have a backyard or any open space so we grow plants in pots – we have sili, alugbati, kamote – and put them by the window so they get some sunshine and fresh air. By the way, aside from being edible these actually make beautiful decorative plants – the sili is a nice bush and when it fruits, the green and red chilis look quite beautiful. And when you give the alugbati and kamote a frame (you can just use twigs like we do or else wire) on which they can crawl and climb, they make really nice topiaries! Healthy mint plant also makes for a really nice table center decor.

My niece is more sosyal – she has two pots of arugula, and she has actually harvested twice already!

A vacant lot not far from where we live has actually been turned into a community garden, with different people – we don’t even know each other – each cultivating one small area. There we have talong, malunggay, upo, sitao, more kamote, even sambong which we add to the salt water for the occasional tuob. Others have corn, tomatoes, pechay, among others; recently someone had a nice harvest of peanuts.

We have to bring water from our place to water our plants, so we are very happy whenever it rains. Sometimes other people beat us to the harvest – the talong we were waiting to get bigger disappeared! – but that’s OK, it ends up on someone else’s plate and we just hope they enjoyed it.

We don’t know whose lot this is so we didn’t ask permission. The owner of another lot nearby had chanced upon some other planters and asked who allowed them to plant there; the next week the lot was fenced up. Oh well, to each his own.

You don’t have to be an expert (although it’s true some people probably have “black thumbs” since whatever they try to grow wither and die!) to grow your own food. I hope that even when this pandemic is over we will continue with our urban and community gardens, whether or not the community pantries are still around. – ‘Hardinera’ Margi Tan-Cruz, Quezon City

COMMUNITY PANTRY CYNTHIA VILLAR
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