Saigon people help each other thanks to the terrace garden

Mr. Le Vinh does not worry about the lack of fresh fish thanks to the terrace fish tank, Quynh Trang has vegetables for the neighbors, and Mr. Phan Nguyen and his wife open a home tour for their three children.

Two days before the city applied the social distancing regime under Directive 16, many people in Saigon had to buy vegetables at a price 3-4 times higher, some people returned empty-handed because the vegetable shelves were empty, some still wilt. droopy. Instead of going to the supermarket, Quynh Trang and her husband (31 years old, from Thu Duc) went to the terrace to harvest vegetables and fruits to give to friends and neighbors.

The spinach and water spinach are in season, so it’s good. The landlady divided the garden into bundles and brought it to five families, each family could eat about three meals. Hearing that a friend’s apartment was blocked, she immediately supplied a box of homegrown plants including vegetables, guava, and papaya. Trang’s family grows more than 100 guava roots on the terrace, harvesting once a week, from 10-15 kg. In addition, she grows dozens of other fruits such as star fruit, whip, toad, sapodilla… and green vegetables.

One of Ms. Trang's harvest sessions was a few kilos of guava, star fruit, a few toads, green vegetables... In addition to giving to neighbors, friends, and a few customers soliciting to buy guava, she still has goods for sale.  I both sell and give.  If you sell kilos of guava, give some more vegetables, generous gardener.  Photo: Quynh Trang.
One of Ms. Trang’s harvest sessions was a few kilos of guava, star fruit, a few toads, green vegetables… In addition to giving to neighbors, friends, and a few customers soliciting to buy guava, she still has goods for sale. “I just sold it and gave it to me. If I sell kilos of guava, I’ll add a few more vegetables,” said the generous gardener. Photo: Quynh Trang.

“My house is near the industrial zone, so there are many cases of infection, and around here many residential groups have been blocked, so they really need food. Just being given a bunch of vegetables is as precious as gold. They’re happy, I’m happy too.” a woman from Quang Ninh, said.

Seeing Trang pick the garden bare and take it away, many people advised her to keep it for the family. She said, “just let it go, just give it away, there’s a lot of houses left, it’s all-out”. But after many days of hard work picking vegetables to bring to relatives, the couple remembered that they did not save vegetables for dinner. They went up to the terrace to gather and cook a bowl of soup. Previously, the amaranth plants grew wild outside the box, all of them uprooted, now in the epidemic season, they have picked them all, not letting any plants.

A week ago, the landlady found a bunch of vegetable seeds left in the kitchen cupboard. The couple was overjoyed, pulled together to repair the garden, mix the soil, clear the trellis to sow new seeds. “There is a garden, no matter how long Covid lasts, it’s not a problem,” she said.

Mr. Thanh Tinh, 40, administrator of a rooftop vegetable growing association in Ho Chi Minh City, said that during the quarantine days, the number of members in the group increased dramatically. Only from the end of June until now, the group has increased by 4,000 members, most of them sharing their experiences of growing clean vegetables, showing off their gardens and asking to buy plant varieties.

“During the epidemic season, people have more time to take care of their homes and plant trees. The garden helps provide vegetables for the whole family to eat during the time of isolation, reducing stress caused by the epidemic, especially not during the pandemic. I feel cramped and bored when I have to stay at home for many days,” he said. The terrace is only 20 m2, but Mr. Tinh can grow enough vegetables to eat, cantaloupe and cherry tomatoes – his favorite plants.

Starting as a “terrace farmer” when the epidemic broke out in the early stages, Mr. Le Vinh, from Thu Duc, did not expect the garden to be so beneficial. “My place is still a lot of goods, but vegetables are rare, fish is not as fresh as usual. I have food supplies from my family, there is a rooftop fish tank, some fresh vegetables are grown at home also have a little more comfort.” , I said. On the 50 m2 garden, in addition to growing vegetables by the aquatic method, Mr. Le Vinh also built a tank for raising red-billed red snapper, tortoiseshell, perch…

Fish Mr. Le Vinh caught in the tank on the terrace.  Photo: Le Vinh.
Fish Mr. Le Vinh caught in the tank on the terrace. Photo: Le Vinh.

On July 9, when the quarantine order was issued, he “released the net” to pull the fish after a year of care. Although the perch is small, it has many eggs and fragrant meat. Vinh cooks dinner for his family, keeps some in the cupboard and feeds him for a long time.

For the past two months, he has closed the restaurant and volunteered to carry anti-epidemic goods for the ward. The tense atmosphere made Vinh’s mood drop. Every morning and at the end of the day, he goes to the garden to breathe fresh air, pick vegetables, and watch fish to relieve stress.

Having three young children, so how to keep them at home to avoid the epidemic is the big problem of Mr and Mrs. Phan Nguyen (35 years old, in Binh Thanh). The balcony is 3 m2 wide, he decided to clean up to grow green vegetables. On the 30 m2 terrace, he covered it with melons, bitter melons, cucumbers and nearly a dozen kinds of green vegetables. “My wife and I want to have both clean vegetables to eat and a green space for the children to explore and play,” said Thuy Tien, Nguyen’s wife.

Mr. Phan Nguyen's rooftop garden has a corner for his three children to have a picnic at home.  Photo: Thuy Tien.
Mr. Phan Nguyen’s rooftop garden has a corner for his three children to have a picnic at home. Photo: Thuy Tien.

On the days of having to be separated, they opened a “0-dong home tour” for their children. After breakfast, the couple led the cubs to the terrace to freely catch butterflies, dragonflies, grasshoppers and pick fruit. In the afternoon, Mr. Nguyen pulled the swimming pool to the terrace, filled it with water for the children to bathe and play. His wife spread the carpet, displayed fruits and soft drinks for children to “picnic at home”.

There are two small gardens, so every day, they have some kind of fruit and vegetables to harvest. At mealtimes, the young couple just went to the garden to pick and eat and give gifts to friends and neighbors.

“Staying at home a lot is no longer boring and stuffy. Having a terrace garden, we spend more time together, peacefully waiting for the epidemic to pass,” Ms. Thuy Tien said. Follow vnexpress