Rambunan village in December 2005
Photographer: Charles Roring
Dahlia flower in Sonder
On my short tour to Rambunan village, I saw purple flowers growing among the grass near the vanilla plantation. Rambunan is a small village in District Sonder that is famous for its palm sugar home industry. I didn't know the species name of this beautiful plant. It was growing on a wet ground among the dry grass below the vanilla and papaya plantation I ask the ojek driver to stop for awhile so that I could shoot them with my Sony Cybershot digital camera. I was surprised to see that this species of flower was not offered by flower vendors in Tincep another village still under the administration of Sonder regency that has been famous for its flower market.
Actually, Sonder is not famous for
its decorative vegetation. In 1970s and 1980s, the village was famous for its
clove plantations. Farmers there became very rich after that clove boom. They
built big houses and villas. They decorated the front yard of their houses with
clove trees. Unfortunately, they did not pay attention to the education of their
children. Entering the 1990s farmers from other islands in Indonesia began to
harvest their clove too. They planted clove in the middle of 1980s when they saw
how successful the clove farmers were. Gradually the clove market in Indonesia
became saturated with this tropical spice and the cigarette industry, the
largest customer of clove could not absorb all the commodity that was being
harvested by the clove farmer. It was a tragic story for the Sonderese farmer in
Minahasa regency of North Sulawesi. They could not enjoy the golden era of 1970s
and 1980s anymore.
Now the farmers in the district of Sonder have learned from the mistakes of their parents. They do not want to rely on clove plantation. They diversify their agricultural businesses. Besides growing clove, they raise pigs, chickens, fish. Those who do not have lands along the river bank, grow vegetables and rice in their garden. They also know that the education of their children is the best investment for the future generation of people in Sonder.
In front of the house yard of the villages in Sonder district, the local people grow flowers. City dwellers from Manado and Bitung like to come to Sonder to buy flowers there.
Flowers are seen as low risk investment. They can make their houses look more beautiful with various species of flowers and at the same time, they can make money too. It's been four years since the last time I visited Sonder. Yet, the bright colors of flowers of Minahasa are still fresh in my mind. For most of the Indonesian people, only women who like to grow and take care of flowers at homes. They find it weird if there are some men who like flower very much. I am one of them. I like flower because it is an integral part of our nature. When we take care of the flower plants that grow in front of our home yard, we have helped such insects as bee and butterfly in providing healthy nectar for them. In other words, we have given a positive contribution to the preservation of our nature that is now facing a lot of pressures from human being. We throw garbage everywhere, we cut trees, we pollute the sea with our plastic cups and bottles yet we still do not realize that nature has been supporting us since ancient times. We should stop from our daily activities for a while and try to find a nice flower plant around us. Look at the flowers it has. They are God's creation. They are beautiful. And they are there to help us reduce our stress from a whole hectic day working in the office. Well, this is my little story of some purple grass flower near the road between Rambunan village and Sonder. Next time if you plan a vacation trip to the tropics, don't forget to put Sonder village in you list of travel destination. I am very sure, you will not regret your choice. by Charles Roring
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