|Thousands of herbal plants of various types give color to the houses, alleys and public spaces in community unit (RW) 1 of Pasar Minggu in South Jakarta, which received an award from the Jakarta administration earlier this year.
“Residents in this area have become more excited about growing medicinal plants after receiving many benefits from consuming herbs as medicine,” said Yunita Handayani, a 32-year-old woman said to be the inspiration behind the activity.
Yunita, who heads the community unit’s Family Welfare Movement (PKK), said that she started persuading local residents to improve the look and condition of the densely populated neighborhood by planting herbs in 2009.
She acknowledged that during the first few months of her efforts, she had difficulty encouraging people to plant herbs. “Despite their cheap price, people [only] started to get enthusiastic about planting herbs after some of them consumed the herbal plants in their gardens and were cured from their illnesses,” she said. “Promotion of planting herbs then spread through word of mouth.”
Yunita said that she was supported by PKK advisor Nursanty Oyong in encouraging the neighborhood to plant herbs.
Nursanty said she had asked the head of Pasar Minggu’s RW 1, Topik Amperadi, to oblige all chiefs of the 11 neighborhood units (RT) in Pasar Minggu to encourage residents in their neighborhoods to plant herbs.
“We asked each of those RT chiefs to act as pioneers by planting herbs in at least 10 pots at their homes,” said the 50-year-old woman.
Yunita said that after starting with commonly available plants such as ginger, chili and turmeric in small pots, residents had now planted more than 200 various types of herbs in front of their homes, along alleyways and in public spaces such as schools, health-care centers and mosques.
Yunita and Nursanty attach labels to the herbs explaining their type and the medicinal benefits they offer if consumed.
“This is bunga jenggrek ayam, which can cure insomnia and uterus bleeding,” she explained, pointing to a plant. “While this is karang nanas, which can cure cough and vomiting blood,” she said, referring to another herb nearby.
Nursanty said that residents from any community unit are able to come to RW 1 and are permitted to pluck the herbs that grown along alleys if they need them.
Because of the many herbal plants in the neighborhood, Pasar Minggu’s RW 1 is now recognized as the “village of herbs” (Kampung Tanaman Obat Keluarga/Toga), Nursanty added.
Yunita said that to further promote herb planting, she used various events held by the PKK, including arisan (social gatherings), to disseminate information about herbs.
“At arisan, Nursanty usually shares her knowledge and experience about medicinal plants,” Yunita said. (alz)