Love for the soil-A A +A
Friday, February 8, 2013
PRIOR to writing this piece, I watered the plants in the backyard vegetable garden. Looking at the ripening tomatoes, tall spring onions, healthy lettuce and strong green pepper brought me to thinking about my childhood dream of becoming an agriculturist.
Gardening was one of my favorite subjects in elementary and high school, and even in college I kept raising vegetables in the vacant lot beside our house in F. Ramos St., Cebu City. But a degree in agriculture was a “No-no.”
You see, I was tasked to pursue my father’s ambition of becoming a lawyer and my mother’s desire to be a Certified Public Accountant. But I guess it was the turn of events in the family farm in Ponod, Pinamungajan that put the pursuit of an agriculture degree in a coffin.
The nearly 50 hectares rice farm was overtaken by Ferdinand Marcos’s land reform program and, worse, the military uprooted the grapevines that my father sowed based on unfounded allegations that he buried firearms in the vineyard. I felt my father’s frustration. But what broke my father’s heart was the cutting down by our former tenants of the mangoes that were on its way to producing fruits.
Had I become a farmer, I am sure I would have been more engaged in reclaiming our land than cultivating plants and raising animals. Even until now, those lands in Pinamungajan are in limbo. Though I have two parcels of land in Toledo City, I am uncertain on what to do with these, as I have fallen in love with the country that I have lived for the past seven years: New Zealand.
But there are things that you cannot just get away from. There are things that are innate in a person. Even though you want to suppress these, they persist, they return to you.
Such is my love for the soil, love for the earth. When we bought a house in Glen Eden, the backyard was filled with weeds and dirt. I considered it a chance to turn the yard into a vegetable garden. Coincidentally, I learned of a tuition-free course on horticulture. My instructor was a former professor, Jun Diputado from Visayas State College of Agriculture (now Visayas State University) in Leyte.
So every spring, I prepared the clayish ground in my backyard. Once the ground is fertilized, I decide on what best to plant. Then I buy seedlings and care for these through summer. As autumn nears, I harvest enough vegetables for the dining table.
Caring for plants is a simple task, yet it is rewarding. One has to be consistent in sprinkling water; one has to regularly pull out undesirable grass; one has to put fertilizer; one has to prune every now and then.
Gardening gives meaning to life. You don’t need hectares of land; all that is required is a little space, and much love for sowing, growing and harvesting.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 09, 2013.