Increase Immunity During a Pandemic by Farming in Intergenerational Gardens

It is more than eight months since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Activities that involve large numbers of people must be limited to prevent the more massive transmission of COVID-19. This also has an impact on community activities, one of which is the Intergenerational Group (IG) - a group with members of all ages working on issues of healthy aging. During this pandemic, IG meeting which is usually held every month has been temporarily suspended. After being able to conduct meeting, meetings that were usually attended by 50 people are now limited to no more than 20. Members attend alternately while adhering to health protocols. Not a few IG members miss the times they can get together. However, innovation and creativity do not stop.

In Tridadi Village, Sleman Sub-District, Berseri Intergenerational Group (IG) took the initiative to develop a garden for joint activities. Apart from recreation and for establishing friendship, the harvest from the garden is consumed to fulfill nutrition and at the same time increase income for IG and the members who manage this garden.

The land measuring 425 square meters is divided into two parts. The first part is for planting sweet corn, while the other part is for chilies and vegetables.

The idea of managing IG garden first emerged during an inaugural group meeting after four months of absence due to the pandemic. Discussions among IG members went long enough to determine the types of short-term crops that should be planted.

Not only that, this discussion also appointed four elderly members to become 'mentors' for IG in developing this agricultural business.

Managing a garden together is a new experience for Berseri IG. Since the beginning, IG has compiled a collective agreement starting from the division of tasks such as watering or providing fertilizer, raising self-help resources, including procurement of seeds, water storage, to bamboo huts. Not to forget, the detailed percentage distribution for later harvest yields.

The daily schedule are divided according to small groups, for example, one small group is tasked with watering on Wednesdays, the other group is on Monday, and so on.

In August 2020, Berseri IG also sent a proposal for the procurement of chili and palawija seeds to the Sleman Environment Agency (DLH). However, the seeds requested were not yet available, so the agency gave 100 fruit seeds, including longan, mangosteen and mango. These seeds were then distributed to IG members. Each member got at least 2 seeds.

"For starters, we didn't set targets. The important thing is togetherness and this is an opportunity for practice. Hopefully this garden can bring benefits to IG members especially during this pandemic, if members need vegetables, they can pick them in the garden. To get rid of feeling bored, IG meetings are also often held in this garden, ”said the Head of Berseri IG, Marini.

Talking about the benefits, even though the first planting was only carried out in early August, IG feels that there have been many benefits. Through IG, members learn directly in the field and practice their farming skills which adds motivation to other members. Not only that, members who become mentors are increasingly confident because they are recognized and able to contribute to the progress of the group.

Togetherness is also getting stronger, members work together to meet the needs of this garden. What is no less important, they become healthier because every day they walk to the garden and move the body while farming. At the garden they fill with various light competitions that still pay attention to health protocols of course.

“I learned from the IG experience in Vietnam. There is an IG who manages the garden together for income, ”said Marini again. Berseri IG is one of the 19 IGs formed by the YAKKUM Emergency Unit in collaboration with the Regional Commission for Older people, Social Agency of Sleman District, and the local village government in Sleman District since 2015.