I was never the type of girl who liked gardening. I’ve never grown anything and I never wanted to. In fact, if you asked me at any point in my life a list of things I wanted to have, a garden just wouldn’t be one of them.
Yet here I am, twenty-five years old, making a complete turn-around from someone who was apathetic about gardening into an aspiring agri-preneur, planning out a nine thousand square meter, fully sustainable farm. So why the sudden change?
To fully understand how and why I came to this point in my life, we’ll have to go back to the start of 2017. It was around this time that I started working with a client that would dramatically reshape my views about the world and people. This client, let’s call him “Bill”, sold green products — items that were more eco-friendly or sustainable than popular market choices. His company motto was: “Caring for the people and the environment.”
Of course, I was impressed at this man’s principles. He wanted to spread awareness about the damaging effects our current product choices had on the planet, and he wanted to offer a solution.
Part of my job was to research stuff about plastic pollution, among other things. I used to spend days reading about how long plastic took to fully biodegrade, and I checked the facts on how much damage the use of plastic was doing to people and the environment. I’d lay in my bed worrying about what I had just found out. But more than that, I thought of some way I could also help.
In general, cutting back on the stuff you need to buy in the market or grocery store would already help big time. You’d eliminate the need for plastic bags, and you’d stop increasing the demand of items that are usually packaged in plastic. Then I started thinking about where most of our expenses went to: food. From experience, I knew that a single trip to the market sometimes led me to take home five to six plastic bags of varying sizes. We never throw away these bags unless we can find a use for them, and they’re usually just kept in a large container for when we need them. Aside from my market trips, I also did a lot of grocery shopping. And of course, that’s just more plastic.
So, I wondered how cool it would be if I could grow most of the stuff we regularly consumed in our household. Take note that we feed four adults and one child. Our house is located in the middle of the city, and the actual structure of the house isn’t that big — maybe about 250 square meters. But the land the house is built on is astoundingly huge for an urban property: 9,000 square meters.
I’ve always asked my mother what she wanted to do with all this land. She was usually unsure and would just come up with ideas like maybe turning it into a garden or something. All her answers started with a maybe. Don’t get me wrong, I understand her confusion. Obviously, developing this land into anything was going to take some serious cash.
I don’t have as much money as my mom, but I do excel in research and getting things done. So why not just start something small like a vegetable garden? It was in line with my desire to promote sustainability and eco-mindfulness. And we had a nanny with plenty of spare time who loved gardening. Everything felt right.
I made a decision to just dive in and worry later. Of course, I invested a lot of time researching about the materials I needed to start a garden from scratch. Not only that, I also scoured the Internet for inspiration on a practical layout. And that’s basically how everything started. The initial investment wasn’t too painful. I think what really cost me the most money were the concrete blocks, but I’m convinced they’re an investment so I try not to think about it.
I’m not an expert at this yet. I need all the help I can get. But I’m not afraid to ask people, even complete strangers, for input. I know most of the Filipino population know a thing or two about gardening and growing veggies. So I always take a chance to ask pedicab drivers, the sales clerks at the agri-shop, and local residents about their own methods.
This is probably my most fulfilling project to date. Gardening or farming takes discipline and a positive mindset, but it’s also fun for people who want to escape their normal work routine.
One of my greatest wishes for this farm is that it grows into something truly wonderful. I hope it earns enough money to support my family and provide people with jobs. And I want to pass it on to my son and future grand kids so they too will develop the patience and hard work that normally comes when taking care of your own farm.