I spent the last two months in the Philippines, and had a great experience with seed planting with local kids in the neighborhood.
After devouring as many of the cheap and delicious tropical fruits I can get my hands on (especially durian, mango, gaisano, mangosteen, avocado) I’ve been saving the seeds as much as possible, and recently decided to go out with some friends and plant some of them into the surrounding area to give something back to the local community and to see more fruit trees in the area. So, we scouted out a low lying fertile patch of land that was getting regular cow donations and which looked like a good area for water inflows.
The kids in the neighborhood caught on to to what we were doing, and in no time at all started digging holes, preparing seed patches, breaking up dry cow pats, and helping us collect some of the dark, clay-rich soil from a nearby mound. I had my own little squad of mini-gardeners, without even asking for their help.
It was great to see their enthusiasm for seed planting, and I wonder how much of the poverty and suffering you see in SE Asian countries could be averted by simple enjoyable activities such as this — educating kids and teaching them the simple fun of planting seeds. This is a country where you see kids begging or dancing at the traffic lights, or begging at fast food joints and buying nutrition-deficient junk food. Even worse, in the capital of Manila you see many children sleeping in the polluted and dirty streets. In contrast, it is so easy to save seed from the fruit we eat and store and plant them in local areas.
All this came about as I was recently inspired by a story I read of an Indian man single-handedly planting a massive 1,360-acre forest in India, and in the process bringing back the tiger, elephant and indigenous rhino populations. It’s amazing how simple personal actions can bring such profound results — which runs contrary to the mass-produced belief system that we cannot make much of a difference on our own. Even on holiday, when you are distracted and feel somewhat uprooted from your regular routine, it’s not hard to save a few seeds and start planting at parks, fields and anywhere with soil and water. Small actions such as these can compound, and before you know it an abundance of food is sprouting up in the most random areas throughout the world.
I feel great doing even just this small thing towards a greener future for the people in the area, and even if nothing comes out of it, I have the satisfaction of seeing young kids get excited about planting seeds and using local resources to prepare food patches. I am really looking forward to diverting local resources and capital into starting an Eco-village in the Philippines, and exploring new and innovative ways for harmonious lifestyles whilst supporting and educating local communities to break out of poverty and hardship through permaculture.