Lessons Learned from Joining the SUGBUsog Vegetable Gardening Project

Update: I won 2nd place in this vegetable gardening contest!

A few months ago, I decided to join the SUGBUsog Vegetable Gardening Project which is an initiative by the Department of Agriculture Region VII, in partnership with the Province of Cebu. I initially joined the contest for the sole reason that I wanted to transform an area in our backyard into one that is teeming with life.

Two months have passed since I started the vegetable gardening project and I realized that there are so many things it has taught me. Aside from learning new things about gardening in general, there are actually life lessons you can learn right in your own garden. I find some of them to be quite profound.

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I started getting interested in organic gardening a few years ago while I was still living in the city. The very thought of growing your own food sounds really fascinating. But I was living in an apartment back then that has little to no access to water and even sunlight. I was also constantly traveling so I knew back then that starting an ‘edible garden’ was impossible. Now that I have all the space I needed, I finally decided to create one. I recently joined a vegetable gardening contest and we just had the 2nd municipal evaluation earlier today. I also harvested all the pechay and kangkong today. Waiting for a few more weeks before I can harvest the cucumbers too. Anyway, just a little update from me. I haven’t been posting on IG regularly. 

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Growing your own food is a form of self-care.

Most of us think that when you care for another life, perhaps a pet or a child, you’re channeling that care away from yourself. But watching something you care to grow and thrive with your own effort is actually a form of self-care. That is one of the many lessons I learned when I started doing the SUGBUsog Vegetable Gardening Project. Gardening is therapeutic and it cultivates a healthy mind. You feel more connected to nature so you become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Gardening is also an exercise itself so you get to give your mind and body to release tension and stress.

Building garden is building an ecosystem.

I never realized how beneficial my small garden is to the community until I started doing this project. Building a garden is actually building an entire ecosystem as well. I realized that I am providing food and shelter to the birds, bees, bugs, and even those pesky worms we don’t want. By making a small garden, I made a habitat for pollinators in my backyard. I noticed that there are more butterflies and bees in our backyard ever since I started this vegetable gardening project.

Vegetable gardening influences children.


I asked myself one night why I am into plants. A few minutes of thinking and I realized that I got interested with plants because as a child, I’ve seen all the elders in my family grow and take care of different plants. Because I grew up with people who are into gardening, it is only natural that I am invested in it.

Today, I am starting to influence my little sister because she keeps on following me around whenever she sees me in my garden. In fact, she’s always the one checking if the vegetables are ready for harvest.

Doing this vegetable gardening project is just like planting a seed, an idea, to my sister’s mind. Perhaps, one day, when she’s older, she’ll understand better why growing our own food is important.

Growing your own food makes your more conscious of the environment.

Ever since I started growing my own food, I started thinking of sustainable ways to grow everything organically. I have been non-stop researching on new ways to enrich the soil by only using natural products and fertilizers. I am more conscious whenever I buy products for the garden as I don’t want any harmful chemicals that can potentially harm the surroundings, especially the waterways in my community.

No one is born with a black thumb.

Forgive me for saying this; people who claim to have a ‘black thumb’ are people who just want an excuse for not trying. Way back before I started this vegetable gardening project, I would always tell myself that I could never grow anything because I lack the talent and skill for it. The truth is; I never even tried. Losing plants is a normal part of gardening and if you give up too fast, you will never really experience the success you are hoping for.

When someone tells me that they don’t want to start gardening because they have a black thumb, I now say, “But have you actually tried?”

Vegetable gardening helps the community.

This vegetable gardening project taught me that growing your own food is also feeding the community. When I started harvesting some of the vegetables in the garden, I thought that I was just helping myself to save money and have healthier food. But I realized that I am also helping the community by giving out free vegetables. There are also people who come here who buys vegetables or seedlings so they can grow it themselves.

You learn more about yourself.

My mom would join me in planting new seeds or plants in the garden sometimes and I noticed that we actually have different personalities when it comes to gardening. Unlike my mom, I learned that I am a strategic planner and I want my garden laid out properly. My mom would just plant wherever she wants. So long as there’s an area that has no plants yet, she will put seeds or seedlings on it. I don’t do that. Before I start planting, I make a mental list of what goes into this and that. I also landscape the area first because I don’t want to have any problems in the future. I want to have a garden where I can freely move around and where my plants can have enough space to grow.

Healthy soil is the key.

Our garden is actually a metaphor of life. In order to build a strong foundation for your dreams, you definitely want to build an environment around you that is conducive for your growth. In the same way, you cannot grow well if you don’t have a healthy soil. I learned this the hard way when I planted my lettuce seeds into an unhealthy soil. Not a single one of them germinated!

This vegetable gardening project taught me to add compost, manure, and other nutrients to enrich the soil. You want to make your soil fertile first. That way, you’ve laid out a strong foundation for your plants.

You reap what you sow.

In vegetable gardening, you reap what you sow. If you want to have cucumbers, you plant cucumber seeds. But that’s not it. You want to make sure that you plant your seeds into healthy soil and that you constantly water and tend it. The time and effort you give to your garden will show once you see your harvest. If you invested your time in taking care of your plants, you can expect to have a bountiful harvest as well.

You will never run out of work to do in your garden.

There’s always something to do in the garden. I always thought that when it comes to vegetable gardening, you just need to plant the seeds and water it. But I was wrong. Creating a garden requires constant care and attention. So you’ll never really run out of things to do. For one, you need to regularly pull out the seeds. You also need to add fertilizer, set a watering schedule, prune and cut away dead stems. The list goes on.

A garden needs constant tending. And just like life, if you want to bear fruit from your labor, you need to constantly take action every single day to achieve your goals.

Also read: A Trip to Samar Got Me Into Organic Gardening