What is my obsession with container gardens?


19th June 1942: Waitresses from the ‘Quality Inn’ restaurant in Regent Street, London, watering and gathering tomatoes that are growing in boxes on the pavement as part of the ‘Dig For Victory’ scheme.

There is a very simple answer to this to a big problem. Container farming has been round for a long time as you can see in the Photo above this was during World War Two in Regent street in London back in 1942. So why is it that there is so much poverty in the world even at street level when things can be grown in different ways in even the smallest of spaces. Helping to develop this idea will hopefully empower people to help themselves. At the moment I’m still pondering on the best plants for the Philippines climate that will grow easily with little care and things that wont be prone to the sea air and maybe even some plants in the future that will help absorb some of the pollution (not for eating obviously!). But what I’m hoping to do is get this project running and encouraging more expats to work in similar ideas which aren’t expensive but really can make a difference.

How will it work?

Ideally I want to start at home as I want to see what grows well as its pretty hot where we live in Cebu so if it grows there it will grow pretty much anywhere. Next to that is enriching the soil is the next major hurdle so developing our own fertilizer from organic waste is important and being able to replicate that for others is just as important. So now we have the plants and the soil what next? well simply making cheap pots from recycled goods. Growing the first stocks and then encouraging neighbours to start doing the same. Once established start to take cuttings and developing the 2nd and 3rd batches. Which once established as seedlings will then look to gift to people in the shanty town areas ideally by connecting up with organisations operating in those areas so we can find people that will

  • A. look after the plants.
  • B. prepared to give clippings to neighbours to establish more plants.
  • C. prepared to teach others and be visited by us to make sure everything is going well. As we would like to help them if plants are failing (Seedlings may struggle with pollution until established for example).

Where will people keep the plants?

Ideally I want people to be able to keep different types of vegetables in what suits the accommodation they have. E.g. some on the roofs some hanging in bottles on a wall. But the most important thing is that the harvest will be worth the effort to the people involved.

Too little too late?

I look at the recent disasters hitting the Philippines and the first thing that I seen was how quickly the charities were keen to get peoples money on donations. The donations get swallowed up quickly and I don’t believe the majority of charities are even interested in solving the problems. Infact I see many of them see it as an industry which is why a lot of heads of these organisations are earning high salaries. That’s salaries from your donations! ( averaging $120,000 – $240,000 per year each! ). So is it too little too late? I simply think its proof will be in the pudding as the saying goes as literally people will have some small scale step towards being self sufficient and at very low cost. A friend of mine from South Africa was paid a large sum of money to grow seedlings for a region of Africa suffering famine by Oxfam. The plants arrived and were quickly eaten by the locals in that region. Education and development are the key to everything not throwing just money at it. I think the real problem is too much too soon with a mix of corruption thrown in for good measure. A charity can quickly blame its failings in a region down to civil war and corruption but no one ever says “ well maybe your charity was set to fail? ”

So personally I think a small project which people are developing themselves and are educated along the way ( I will be on the same learning curve aswell ) not only encourages more development but also people are given the opportunity do what they want with it aswell as help fellow neighbours etc. As community spirit is key in accomplishing these goals as it needs to be able to spread throughout entire towns.

What’s in it for me ?

Personally I’m after nothing out of this except to help people be able to feed themselves aswell as improve the surroundings they live in as often the places that are “home” are nothing more than a metal roofed bamboo hut. With little or no possessions. Not exactly the nicest environment to bring up families but with the plants it should bring a bit of colour with it aswell as a small sign of hope for a brighter future.