|By the sea: Vegetables grow in boxes on a balcony. Every suitable corner on the island is ultilised to grow vegetables. |Viet Nam News
For the soldiers who are charged with safeguarding the country’s sovereignty on the Spratly Archipelago in the East Sea, life outside the training ground is not so different from that of a farmer.
One of the soldiers’ primary concerns is the lack of vegetable in their diet. A lack of greens in one’s diet for an extended period of time will result in a deficiency of vitamins and minerals, malnutrition, digestive complications and numerous other health problems. It is, therefore, one of the army’s priorities to ensure soldiers are provided with enough vegetables.
Shipping vegetables is out of the question due to the long journey to the island, so the only option left for the soldiers is to grow the veggies themselves. However, extremely harsh weather conditions of the islands make it a particularly challenging task.
With soil and fertiliser delivered from the mainland, the soldiers utilise every single spot suitable to grow vegetables on the islands. Factors such as sunlight, wind, heat and humidity must be considered, the soil must be enriched and types of vegetable carefully chosen to ensure productivity. Soldiers also raise small farm animals such as ducklings and fish to improve their daily menu.
To many of them, gardening after hours spent training helps relax the mind and makes the soldiers feel connected to their home towns. Somewhere on the mainland, their families may be doing the exact same things in their home garden. — VNS
|Grub’s up: A solider feeding farm animals on the islands.|
|Relaxing pursuit: Navy soldiers tend their island garden when off duty. |
|Hobby: Gardening help many relax the mind after duty hours. |
|Little critters: A young soldier examines a new bunch of ducklings. — Photo Đoàn Tùng|
|All at sea: Soldiers cast a net to catch fish to improve their island diet. |