LOLA Sita, 65 years old, values the importance of having healthy food options for her family and community. She strongly believes that food choices made are important in ensuring a healthy household. And according to her, one way to achieve this is to grow and produce your own vegetables.
True to her conviction, she made her hands busy in turning a small space of land in her backyard as a vegetable garden in 2015. Since then, it has become a way of life for her. With support from other institutions, she started with seed assistance. Thinking of its sustainability, Lola Sita consciously saved and set aside harvested seeds from her little garden.
Depending on climatic conditions, Lola Sita varies her crops. In the rainy months, she plants leafy crops such as pechay and lettuce. During drought months, she shifts to more resilient crops such as eggplants, okra, black sesame, and squash. In between these months, she also plants beans, ampalaya and pepper.
Trained on concoctions, she uses plants and fruits around her backyard to prepare organic insecticides, pesticides and fertilizers. Aside from these, according to her, the secret to growing plants is tender loving care. She even joked that plants can hear her words when talking to her plants.
Aside from family consumption, Lola Sita sells her organic produce. With the small income, she is able to buy rice and basic kitchen needs such as salt, sugar and oil. But Lola Sita’s biggest source of joy and happiness is when she sees her children and grandchildren harvesting her crops for their families. She said that as a mother, her heart is always full when her children come to visit her and go home with their bags filled with fresh vegetables.
She also wants to involve her grandchildren in backyard gardening. According to her, this would contribute to inculcating the value of growing food among her grandchildren. In the end, she said that they will be the one to continue what she has started. And if this happens, she would be very happy to share and transfer the knowledge and skills she has gained through the years.
One interesting aspect of the lockdown for her is the use of digital marketing to sell her produce. She said that once her produce is ready for harvest, she would ask her children to post the available crops. She then delivers the orders to her clients fresh from the garden. Lola Sita has also observed that more and more people in her community are asking for more organically grown crops.
Lola Sita is also trained on basic recording and accounting of the produce from her little garden. With this, she can tract her expenses and income. She said that record keeping is important in managing her small garden efficiently.
Lastly, she said that backyard organic gardening should be appreciated by all generations as a matter of ensuring healthy food options and environment. And yes, Lola Sita is right. Her story should inspire us to start growing our own organic vegetables and sharing them to the wider community.