Our sympathy and prayers go out to the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. It is hard to comprehend the destruction and loss of life this past week.
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been in conversation about gardening in the Philippines and the concept has really captured by imagination. Let me share the focus of the discussion. Your input on the topic would be greatly appreciated.
I was contacted by a financial advisor who represents a foundation trying to deal with the extreme poverty in the Philippines. He was seeking input on the potential for gardening to help build the lives of the poor and reduce the extreme poverty. In the Philippines, there is a significant population who basically has nothing. They live off the land and scrounge through the trash to survive. Home may be nothing more than a couple of sheets of plywood and sheet metal, under a tree, to provide some shelter from the tropical rains. (Not much protection from a typhoon.) Jobs simply do not exist for some of the population.
So, the concept is for the foundation to purchase farmland, allowing families to settle there growing crops and living off the land. I was called for a reality check on the concept. If land was provided, could squatters living off the land make a decent life for their family?
Not being gardener themselves, the financial advisors thinking about this idea really did not know what questions to ask when they visit the area at the end of this month. So I helped them framed a list of questions to ask about the soil, the climate, and crops that could be grown. The area is rich in agriculture production. Local gardening includes warm season crops, like corn and tomatoes, and many tropical vegetables, like Calabasa (squash), Gabi (Taro), and Kamtoe (Sweet Potatoes).
A second part of this discussion centers on human development. The growth in self-esteem being able to grow the produce to feed your family.
So I ask you the question, if land was provided, could squatters living off the land make a decent life for their family? What would you advise the foundation considering this question?