There is a growing community of plant lovers on Instagram which has seen the plant swapping movement grow. There are plant parents, plant enthusiasts and many a plant geek and hoarder sharing houseplants, cuttings, seeds and best practices.
Intrigued with this concept, I attended my first plant swap last week at Warehouse Eight in Makati (Philippines) –an event simply called Plant Swap MNL 2019– to learn what all the fuss was about. In fact, it was the first of its kind to be held in the Philippines.
There I was, surrounded by green-minded people who were excited with the possibility of bringing a rare pot home and perhaps even a full box of green beauties. They flocked around the long table lined and gushed over the lush plants, like moms gushing over their newborn babies. I listen in as they throw around words I can vaguely interpret, a language that all the plant lovers seem fluent in.
Urban jungle gardener, Girlie Cruz, brings a number of plants for swapping to the event.
I learn their fixation has been greatly influenced by urban house plant expert and environmental scientist Summer Rayne Oakes, known as Homestead Brooklyn on Instagram, an author who has inspired many an amateur green thumb to connect to nature despite living in the city.
Aside from sharing the same appetite for collecting houseplants, we all came together that day for a bigger purpose – to help raise funds to feed the undernourished children in Cavite.
The Plant Swap MNL 2019 event was organized by Green CAMP Philippines, led by committed members and husband and wife Mike and Liza Resurreccion, it is an environmental conservation organization with the mission to: Create experiences, ignite Awareness, promote Mindfulness and inspire Passion in people who are committed to making a positive difference.
Money raised from entry fees were being donated to the Edible Garden Project for the school beneficiaries of GoPalakas –a supplemental feeding program and nurturing program for malnourished children –of a non-government organization called SIFCARE. The Edible Garden Project is expected to launch in January 2020.
The feeding program doesn’t just cover the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of young children, but endeavours to educate mothers about the importance of plant-based eating. According to the organization, kids are able to perform better in school and are more physically active and alert due to the health and nutritional benefits of plant-based diets.
The overall aim of the Edible Garden Project is to educate children on sustainably growing their own food, learning how it is produced and why organic is much better, and hopes to prevent food waste and instil a greater appreciation of the whole food and nutrition cycle. Being a part of this great cause turned out to be a great bonus for all plant swapping participants.
There was also a lively discussion about urban gardening. Meg Gonzalaew, Mani Pajares and Mike Resurreccion shared their stories of how their love of plants began. They offered gardening tips, promoted organic urban gardening and fostered the idea of how the simple act of planting can do so much for the environment. Throughout the panel discussion, these three plant mentors emphasized that a lack of space for gardening is not a problem and that you can begin with small spaces, and even linked how a plant lifestyle could help to mitigate climate change.
Here are three key lessons I took away –and why I think you should adopt a plant lifestyle too:
- Plants are nature’s air purifiers. Indoor air pollution can increase your risk for a lot of diseases such as lung cancer and ischemic heart disease. You can remedy that by adding plants inside your house. Some plants act as natural air filters and can improve the quality of air in your home. They can help remove the dangerous compounds exacerbated by chemicals in your home ie. plastic furnishings, petroleum-based fabrics in your carpets.
- Plants act as destressors and are good for our wellbeing. Stress has a negative effect on our bodies and minds. It ages us and contributes to fatigue and insomnia and even promotes heart disease and diabetes. Having plants at home can counteract this. Plant lovers seem more content and mindful. Being around plants helps to boost their mood as it lowers their cortisol and anxiety levels and can help them manage stress much better.
- You can reap what you sow. Some of the participants followed a plant-based diet and creating an edible garden sanctuary at home meant they could supplemented their food purchases. Growing your own food has a lot of benefits too. You can grow and harvest chemical-free produce, thereby actively managing your health, and saving money in the process too. Sustainably growing your own food also brings physical, mental and environmental benefits too.
The event turned out to be a night of healing. By being there, we helped to heal some hungry children of Cavite, are on the path to healing our planet through city gardening, and most of all, we were able to heal each of our differences by coming together as a plant loving community.
I wasn’t sure if it was because I was surrounded by the greenery or that we took part of GoPalakas Feeding Program that made me feel wonderful, but it was an unforgettable experience. I attended not expecting to take anything home with me but I returned much more enlightened, made some new friends and excited with the bag of soil, plants and small bag of seeds with which to start my urban gardening journey.
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All images supplied by author unless otherwise stated.