Thursday, May 10, 2012

Periurban Farming is Everywhere (ie. Beside My Office, Luckily)

Corn and peanut intercrop.
The long silence owes itself to the fact that, aside from our shop, we've put up a cacao company. And that takes up a lot of time, actually. From being a semi-loafer, I've become some kind of weird version of an adult. Although the home garden is undergoing a lot of progress, I am not always home to experience it.

Luckily, we still live in a country that is hopeless in its planning. The continued migration and unplanned development has its advantages-- one significant one being that we are still reminded of the possibilities, plant- and food-wise, of our chaotic metropolis. I document this a lot in my other blog.

That's Max under a talisay tree.
I'm from the periurbs and I work in the periurbs (that's a buzzword among one person, myself). The periurban areas are the ones on the fringes of urban areas. I can ramble about it like I do in real life, but I don't have enough time and alcohol to do that, so here is a more concise description. I love that the concept is out there, because a massive portion of Metro Manila is in that sort of gray zone. My office building is inside a sort of "pseudo-subdivision" that has none of the planning aspects of those privatized zones. Our building is beside warehouses, small homes (some of them may be informal), medium homes, a lot of people sitting around all day, chickens, and yes, ambulant vendors and their fruit. Most importantly, there is a vacant farm lot beside my building. I often peer out into it.

That's Daang Hari, a road connecting the mess of new real estate developments to Metro Manila.
I like it. I really don't like the monokultura of subdivisions. It's all fine, but it gets boring. People end up consuming too much media, and they define themselves by the media they consume in their sensory deprivation chambers. That's another post altogether.

So I finally went and met the farmer from next lot. His name is Max and he is a migrant from Cagayan de Oro. He lives two blocks down (and carries his water everyday to his plot, Jeebus). The lot he farms doesn't belong to him, but the owner has allowed him to use it. Apparently, there is a sort of farming tenant arrangement that is common in the periurbs-- this is completely new to me (When chatting with Max about my garden, he asked me if I had a tenant in my lot. I kind of laughed and realized he wasn't joking.).

Alugbati crawling on the gate, which is usually locked.
He plants mostly things that he is able to buy seed for. That means, commercial varieties of corn, chilis, peanuts, etc. The alugbati and kamote, he grows from cuttings. He also has wild saluyot that he didn't plant in. He will give me seeds once they come about.

Here is Max looking spiffy in his buri hat with green trim.
Max has trouble keeping his corn from being stolen. Judging from the amount of people hanging out in the streets, many are jobless. Probably a lot of them are migrants. Anecdotes point to areas like this supplying much of the labor of subdivisions of Ayala Alabang, the adjoining mini-suburban-city, and the malls.

"Wild" saluyot that just grew without any seeding. And my foot.
His soil is also very poor, as it was subsoil dumped on the lot. His crops aren't doing too well-- there is very little mulch as well. He does use chemicals to "start plants up".

Large siling labuyo.

That's about what I know for now. I said I would drop by with seeds, so I want to poke around a bit more at Max's context (does he have a sort of "day job" if you may, and how things all tie in with migration, periurban landlordism, and whatnot.

1 comment:

Diego said...

Bea, I just wanted to say: Keep blogging, because I am reading your stuff with continued and great interest! :)