Victory gardens for Ati tribe & Filipino friends

Packets of seeds spread out on a couch.

Last Updated on June 8, 2023 by Ellen

Check out all the seeds! Time for planting.

Our Philippine municipality is currently under ‘Modified General Community Quarantine with heightened restrictions’. Only essential travel is permitted, gatherings prohibited, neighborhood passes and log books in use, masks mandated, alcohol sales banned. 

Seems like a perfect time to do some gardening. 

Actually, blog follower, Annie Ureta Flores, sent a Venmo donation specifically for garden seeds. We matched and multiplied it. And now we have seeds. Thanks, Annie!

We’ve got well over 100 large size packages. In my estimation, they contain at least 7,500 individual seeds. (About 3,500 vegetable seeds and another 4,000 of the tiny leafy ‘salad greens’ seeds.)

They are all part of our renewed focus on sustainability and self-help here in the Philippines, where our world-wandering has been stalled for more than 16 months by the coronavirus crisis.

We will distribute the seeds to neighbors and friends – and the Ati tribe; anybody willing to plant and tend and grow and consume and propagate them.

As our regular blog readers know, we’ve been assisting the Ati with community betterment projects and economic support over the past pandemic year.

Related: How we met the Ati indigenous tribe in the Philippines

Now we plan to creatively induce the tribe to take up and continue vegetable gardening with greater zealousness.

Sadly, it has become obvious that COVID is not going to be conquered anytime soon in our area of Malay, Aklan, on the northwest tip of Panay Island. 

The health, economic, and social strain seem certain to continue through 2021 and beyond.

As of this writing, only 5.09% of the Philippines estimated 110 million population has been fully vaccinated. 

Locally, the small available supply of vaccine – mostly Chinese SinoVac – has been used to protect healthcare and municipal employees, senior citizens and ‘at risk’ individuals, and select public facing workers.

While the quarantine continues, two miles offshore, Boracay island (the economic engine of the region), remains re-opened to greatly reduced domestic tourism – providing some hope.

Still, anxiety, unemployment, and desperation grow.

Further, the delta variant has been confirmed on Panay.

All things considered, the seeds seem like a ‘no-brainer’.

If one can’t work or move about or obtain food as desired, why not grow a garden of your own? What else is there to do?

Beautiful ornamental plants at a Philippine home in Malay, Aklan.

Indeed, I do see some vegetable gardens in use – but more common are beautiful, lush, tropical ornamentals. Coconuts, bananas, papaya, and rice grow everywhere.

The environment is certainly a factor. Blazing heat, lengthy dry spells, and innumerable insects are not exactly favorable for the springtime veggie crops we know in the west.

Still, the world is upside down, hunger is an issue, and free-time is abundant. Further, rainy season is upon us in the Philippines. Cooler wetter conditions should be helpful (just not too wet please).

In any case, we’re pushing forward with our seed spreading. I’ve already handed out some packets that I now always carry in my backpack. And we have started making arrangements for more coordinated Ati garden efforts.

We have conferred with the Ati chief – seen above with Ellen. He will help set up a group of compensated ‘oversee-ers’ who will do the prep work and share the daily care duties to get seeds sprouted and growing.

The seedlings can then be transplanted to other personal or family plots. New gardeners can learn. Hopefully, young people will become involved. In a couple months, a harvest can begin. Then the process can start again.

We have enough seeds to supply the several Ati housing clusters in our area — including the hilltop Kurong village where we’ve concentrated our previous charitable efforts. We’ll scatter these seeds around.  We’ll get more if need be. 

In fact, the most populous lower Ati village already has a huge community garden (seen below) near the end of a growing cycle. The village pastor told me they always need more seeds. And more seeds they shall have.

An Ati garden in Carla Village, Malay, Aklan, Philippines.

Finally, a preview / tease: the seeds aren’t enough!

We have another creative planting plan in the pipeline – this one involving trees. Those details to follow shortly as the Earth Vagabonds continue to assist, aid, and improve any way we can.

As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.

Life is NOW! 

Thanks for reading, “Victory gardens for Ati tribe & Filipino friends.”

Earth Vagabonds and generous overseas donors brought electricity and running water to Korung Village, rebuilt a chicken coop destroyed by a typhoon, and helped build a new foot bridge, and more.

We are grateful for the help from our global tribe of early retired budget travelers!

If you would like to help, please go here.

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