“Hope for the best, but plan for the worst” are words that we should take to heart. While countries have shown gains against the virus, we’re just not sure where this battle will take us or how long it will last. And now, with the return of the USS Theodore Roosevelt to Guam because of the virus, it shows how vulnerable we really are. What’s to say that container ships won’t turn around and go back to the mainland or Hawaii if their crews get sick on their way to Guam?

At the start of our struggle, some of the most calming news came when it was reported that the container ships will continue to deliver supplies to Guam. And, while I believe they will continue unimpeded, I am planning for the worst by starting a home garden.

I am planting a variety of vegetables, but I’m mainly focused on fast-growing crops. While researching gardens on YouTube, I came across several posts about the Moringa tree. While originating in India, it is being grown in many parts of the world because of its high nutritional value. It can be easily grown from cuttings and is already plentiful on Guam.

Many meetings have been held on sustainability, but they don’t seem to have made much progress in a way that would make a difference for us now.

I would encourage everyone to take personal responsibility and take the steps necessary to ensure their food supply. A few chickens and a few Moringa trees can make all the difference in the world if we have to wait a little bit longer for our stores to get replenished. We’ve played dangerous games with our hospital – let’s not make the same mistake with our food.

The University of Guam has offered courses to students on how to start home gardens. 

I would hope the governor would call the agriculture sustainability team together (virtually) and move to make progress. Get UOG and the Department of Agriculture to provide guidance and support. We can have crews plant Moringa trees in all the parks and public spaces. They should be able to provide seeds, seedlings and instructions to families who want to start a garden. Allow temporary use of Chamorro Land Trust property that is intended for agricultural use, and allow anyone who wants to farm the land to do so until we are in the clear.

And, after we are back to a stable condition, these improvements can be used to help feed the homeless and less fortunate.

It’s an overreaction if we do this but wind up not needing it, and a horrible mistake if we don’t do anything but end up wishing we did.

If anyone has a Moringa tree and would consider donating a few cuttings to the Benavente Middle School Parent Teacher Organization, we will plant it in a garden at the school if we can get on campus. Or plant them in containers and pass out to anyone who wants them if we cannot. We are also posting tips on farming on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/VSABMSPTO/.

There is a new world condition and we need to be better prepared for this and the next outbreak. I encourage the Guam Department of Education to incorporate a mandatory semester of agriculture into the high school curriculum.

Battle the virus – get out in the sun for your needed vitamin D and start a garden today.

Gary Kuper is a Benavente Middle School PTO team member.

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