At home, life grows: Ilocano homemaker grows half of her family’s food supply

Jane Basug, aka “IlocaKnow Mommie,” tends to different crops and ornamental plants, which allows her to connect with nature, her family, and community.

A flourishing garden somewhere in Santa Maria, Bulacan is a product of a mother’s love for her family.

Behind it is Jane Basug, 39, who has long been imbued with the farm life. Having been raised by her farmer parents and grandparents in Nueva Vizcaya exposed her to fresh produce and farm-to-table lifestyle.

Now that she has her own family, she is doing the same thing by growing food for and with them.

“As a mother myself, I want to teach my son to eat vegetables. I want him to be aware of our lives in the province when we were kids and I thought that the best way to do so is to let him experience a part of it,” said Basug, who also likes to call herself as “IlocaKnow momie” or Ilocano mommy. 

When plants thrive, so does love (and friendship!)

She began growing food crops on the windows and rooftop of their previously rented space in Quezon City. Moving to their present home in Bulacan gave her ample space to grow more edible crops and ornamental plants. 

Adjacent to their home is a traffic island that she also plans to turn into a garden extension, provided she gets the go signal from their area’s admin. 

Basug isn’t the only one who has her heart set on building an edible garden. She is assisted and supported by her husband despite having no prior experience or interest in gardening. 

“As I introduced gardening to my son, I also engaged my husband to love what I do. Plus, the garden makes my mother busy and happy because she also gets to do what she loves: gardening!”

Jeter Basug, Jane’s son, happily joins her mother in gardening.

On difficult days induced by the pandemic, ornamental plants supplemented the family’s income, while edible produce enabled them to stay healthy and safe. 

Basug said, “When many people were waiting and comparing their ‘ayuda’ with each other, we were glad to have shared some produce from our garden. And now that we are hit by the increasing prices of everything around us, our garden provides us with an alternative, a very good one at that.”

Purple sitaw, katuray, malunggay, and saluyot from the home garden. Basug’s ornamental plants can also be seen in the background.

But aside from these monetary and tangible benefits, some important and priceless gifts of gardening to her are friendship and a sense of community.

“Who would have thought that a handful of pechay leaves and a few eggplants can earn me a whole tray [of] eggs? Or with a few sitaw and okra, we will have a friend driving to get us…  freshly baked pandesal?”

This implies that gardening is more than just planting and harvesting. Gardening may reward you with a healthy and positive environment for you and your family.

Living in harmony with plants

Some mainstays of Basug’s garden are malunggay, kamote, spring onion, and basil. 

She explained, “For the rest of our crops, we replace them from time to time because of their life span. But we also make sure that before they deteriorate, we have another batch to replace them. We would like to maintain a cycle as much as we can to create a sustainable edible garden.”

Her garden is currently filled with the following: cabbage, cauliflower, eggplants, okra, sitao, siling pansigang, patola, ampalaya, kangkong, mustasa, saluyot, lettuce, pechay, kamatis, as well as herbs like curry leaf, thyme, and talinum. 

Basug also planted kamias, atis, and aratiles in the ground, which are already producing fruits.

Basug’s two-meter-tall kamias tree.

“In order to make our plants healthy and happy, we need to have a good quality of soil.” To achieve this, she practices bokashi and traditional composting. “This method requires a lot of effort but is very rewarding.”

“I seldom fertilize our veggies. Once in their lifetime, I use vermicast. The rest of their growth depends on the compost that we have. After harvesting the produce from the container or pots, we empty out the pots, and the soil will be mixed with the compost. This way, the soil will regain the nutrients that were lost during the process,” she added. 

As of writing, about 50 percent of the produce that the Basug family consumes are home-grown.

Although she does not sell the fruits and vegetables she produces, she happily shares them with neighbors when they ask. “Some neighbors also give us something in return. Sometimes, I get a free tray of eggs, cooked viand, snacks, bread, cake, and more. I am always a believer that whatever goodness that comes around goes around, too.”

A home is where life and love reside. And with a garden, it strengthens the security and bond within the household—and neighborhood—just as this family shows. 

Photos courtesy of Jane Basug

For more information, visit Your IlocaKnow Mommie

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Vina Medenilla
Vina Medenilla is a content producer for Agriculture Monthly magazine. She is a graduate from Miriam College with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Fashion, photography, and travel are some of the things she loves. For her, connection with nature is essential to one’s life.

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