Picture: Gyan Lingam at his vegetable garden in Nadera.
Taking pleasure in an activity that helps one’s relaxation is known as a hobby and is usually done during one’s own time.
There are many types of hobbies that people choose to keep themselves occupied with, but for 57-year-old Gyan Lingam, who is originally from Batinikama in Labasa, his hobby has helped to feed him and his family.
The Lingam family, who had relocated to Nadera in 2011 share a passion for toiling the land. Before moving to Nadera, they planted sugarcane on the outskirts of Labasa and have always had a close relationship with the land.
For Mr. Lingam, his hobby is planting. He genuinely loves keeping active on his garden, and on his cassava patch which is just behind their family home in Ratu Dovi Road, Nadera. He beams from ear to ear every opportunity he gets to check on his labour of love.
On their ¼ acre residential lot, they’ve made the most out of the available land that is available to them. There are hanging containers planted with vegetable seeds and some potted plants which are ready to be transplanted to their garden.
The Lingam’s have put their time to good use immediately following receipt of their Home Gardening seed packages, which were distributed to them courtesy of the Ministry of Agriculture.
“First of all, thank you to the Ministry of Agriculture, they helped me to get my hands on some seeds and because I was not doing anything and with most of my land here being left idle, I decided to put it to good use straight after I received the seeds, that’s when I started to plant the vegetables here at home.”
He shared that after planting the seeds, he received interest from his neighbours who were interested in buying some of his mature vegetables to which he gladly obliged them.
“When I planted the vegetables, the interest came and with that, I knew I can make some extra money,” he smiled.
He is also attentive to his health and that of his family’s, choosing to view his farming and gardening activity as bouts of much needed physical exercise; “I took it as my physical training and I have involved my wife too, plus I also get to have fresh vegetables from my gardens for my family’s meals so I don’t have to go out, especially in this crisis, to buy our vegetables from the market.”
He has lauded the continuous efforts of the Ministry of Agriculture in attempting to lessen the impact of COVID-19 on families in affected areas, particularly on Viti Levu.
“What the Ministry of Agriculture is doing is good, all I can say is that it is great and I commend their effort and I give my blessings to the Ministry. It is great that during this crisis, the Ministry of Agriculture has not stopped working, and I am saying this from my heart, thank you very much for supporting the whole of Viti Levu in all that you do,” said Mr. Lingam.
He has made a plea to his fellow Fijian, to stay home as much as possible and to turn to the land, “Do some gardening to help you save money, whatever you used to spend on the vegetables in the market, you can redirect that money elsewhere, use the land to plant your own food and you can also sell the excess and make money from the comfort of your own homes.
“Planting is my hobby, I have always loved getting my hands dirty because, for me, the land is my life. I feed myself through my hobby, and my hobby feeds me,” said Mr. Lingam.
“I want to tell people to use all available land around their house to plant your food and vegetables, you will feel happy eating from your own garden.
Mr. Lingam also occasionally does his own research into the types of agricultural asexual reproduction and plant propagation that he can do. He has successfully budded and grafted a number of fruit trees around his home, like his lemon tree and guava tree.
He grows an assortment of vegetables on his vegetable garden, ranging from Chinese cabbages, okra, eggplants, capsicum, tomatoes, maize and bitter gourd.