Sprouts

Raising a toddler, pursuing a career in scientific innovation, and being active in social communities seem like a series of impossible demands for one woman. But in Inez Kriya’s work, all of these roles weave into each other seamlessly as we visit a food-sovereign community with no gender discrimination. How nice would it be if every woman could access this kind of role in our society?

“Mommy!”

“Hm?”

“Are tomatoes veggies or fruits?”

Remi chuckled. Lazuri’s question reminded Remi of when she was just about Lazuri’s age, turning five, when she asked the same question to her mother.

“Which one do you think?”

“Mmm… I don’t know. Sometimes they’re veggies, sometimes they’re fruits!” said the child firmly. Zuri looked at the small tomatoes in front of her. “If you’re cooking soup, the tomatoes become veggies. If you’re making juice, the tomatoes become fruits.”

Remi burst into laughter. “Which one do you like better, Zuri, tomatoes in a bowl of soup or tomatoes in a glass of juice?”

Remi threw her sight to the pots of tomato plants that lined up her balcony. It would be the perfect time to harvest in two or three days.

“Juice! Because it’s tasty, sweet, and cold.” Zuri frowned and began to lick her lips. “Hmm, Zuri wants tomato juice now…”.

Remi chuckled. “Okay, we’ll make tomato juice soon. I’ll have to finish this first. Zuri, can you help me by putting the celery leaves into the purple basket?”

Her toddler excitedly nodded her head. Remi got up, put the leaves and branches she had just trimmed into the composter, added dry husks, and put on the lid. She mixed the filtered compost liquid into the water in the plant sprinkler tank at the end of the attic. She rotated the tank button, and several sprinklers that were spread along the pipe frames started their local artificial rain on top of dozens of her fruit and flower pots.

“Let’s go,” Remi said. She was carrying two baskets full of eggplants, spinach, chilli peppers, celery, and papaya leaves, all of which were her own harvest. Lazuri came and took her hand, and they walked down the stairs together. 

It had been three years since Remi started her attic garden, the same hobby she shared with many of her neighbours. Lately, the city’s agricultural programme has become one of the obligatory programmes on the food sovereignty agenda. Not only that the crops could feed the entire family, but the extra harvest could also be traded with other residents who had different kinds of vegetables, herbs, or fruit. Nothing is wasted.

The programme gave Remi a breath of fresh air after she stopped working. Her pregnancy was pretty risky. For the sake of both the mother’s and the baby’s survival, Remi took a break from work. However, after five years, she realised that “going back to work” was not as easy as she had thought. It was pretty surprising because she had a brilliant academic background and experience in food technology.

The condition made her feel like she had lost a part of her identity. She was worried that she would be perceived as if she could no longer contribute to society through her knowledge. She was afraid to imagine a future where she was a helpless person.

Have I made a mistake? Remi already knew the answer then, but still, she felt something was missing.


“Mrs Remi, the prototype is ready!” Remi received a text message from the head of Cluster 03, followed by a picture of a tank-like object with several protruding hoses.

Remi smiled. Her idea to make an automatic sprinkler using rainwater and solar power was accepted. The device was easy to operate and would be effective for community-scale gardens that were planned in every housing complex. In the meantime, she would make sure that the prototype functioned well according to her design.

If her product worked, other communities would be able to apply similar methods for their own gardens. The device also would be easy to operate by the women who were active in the gardens.

Remi threw a glance at Lazuri, who was drinking her juice in apparent joy. Remi smiled. She had found it again.


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  1. Dengan background pendidikan dan karir yg gemilang, Remi dapat berkarya bagi lingkungannya. Ibu produktif tak terbatas hanya pada pekerjaan yg menghasilkan materi. Terima kasih Mbak Inez atas inspirasi ceritamu.