In a little patch of earth in New York City, we plant vegetables. Despite the fleeting good weather in between the seasons, we cultivate a small garden, its size no larger than a car space. The space in the metropolis is limited, but the plants grow fast with less than ordinary care.
At about springtime, our garden bursts into life from its winter hibernation. Creeping squash vines, pepper, and camote sprouts supply us with nutritious greens like what we have in the Philippines. Held in pots and sometimes left hanging by the window we have bulbs of scallion, ginger rhizomes, and a few tendrils of mint and thyme fortified by fertilizers and vitamins. Plump jalapeno peppers, and green potato tops grow outside. The stubby calamansi tree in our living room bears flowers in every branch. The pungent lemon grass (tanglad) serves as our natural décor and insect repellant right on the window.
Our little garden proves luxuriantly prolific in sunny weather. It’s something our kababayans must see and learn from. At harvest time, we get more than enough for our dinner table; the extra harvest that can’t be kept in the refrigerator, we give away to our thankful neighbors.
Planting is a simple solution to food shortage. It’s something we need in the Philippines. Yet I wonder, despite so many of us (14.5 million as of latest count) who go hungry, there’s no government program, national movement, barangay association self-help, school campaign, or bayanihan initiative to rally Filipinos to plant and be productive. Why do we refuse to plant, choose to scrimp on food and accept that we’ve become a noodles republic?
Years before, Imelda Marcos had her green revolution program. Blessed with a year-round of sunny weather, lots of time to spare, and vacant fertile land to till, we could have done just that. But we brushed aside planting as though we never needed it. We neglected agriculture and the poorly-appreciated farmers have left to work for other jobs.
Without us planting in a large scale, it’s embarrassing to complain of hunger. Do we think planting is such a menial and demeaning job that it’s not worth our time? What will we teach our children if we’re too picky about work? Why can’t we understand the dangers of relying on other countries for our food supply that someday we can’t afford? If we don’t plant, what do we want to do with our idle time? What will happen to a country which can’t produce it’s own food?
All over the world, planting for food is a necessity. Domestic production is required just like the green movement that’s needed to counter global warming and climate change. Yet in spite of food shortage and joblessness, we remain seated on the fence. The message hasn’t caught our senses yet—-that only those who plant can expect a harvest. =0=