Bringing the community together through gardening

The organic garden has brought local residents together to do gardening. Photo courtesy: Sin Chew Daily

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 (Sin Chew Daily) -- A tiny community organic garden measuring only slightly more than 2,000 square metres has become a cohesive force to bring the residents of Pandan Jaya Utara together.

Started only a year ago, the organic garden is today teeming with all kinds of vegetables such as cabbage, long bean, cucumber, pumpkin, cherry tomato, etc., thanks to the concerted effort of the residents.

Second life

The community garden's initiator Janey Ng told Sin Chew Daily she was forced to stop work in 2014 after suffering from a minor stroke at the advice of the doctor.

“It actually gave me a second life. I thought I should perhaps spend time on doing things I like in order to stay happy every day.”

After leaving the job market, Ng was contemplating what she could do for her community.

She said she applied to the municipal council five years ago to turn the vacant plot of land into a venue for community activities but was rejected.

Two years ago, she learned that a residents' association would be set up and she instantly joined. In addition to helping the association's chairman to organise various community events such as family day and community clean-up campaign, she also proposed to the chairman to set up an organic community garden.

After getting positive feedback from local residents, the association began to apply to the municipal council to turn the empty plot of land into a community garden.

“The municipal council has been promoting green living and low-carbon city concept in recent years and they were very keen on our proposal.”

Without any professional knowledge to start with but equipped with a powerful passion for vegetable farming, Janey Ng has turned the vacant plot of land into a thriving organic vegetable garden.

“We managed to have our first harvest which we sold to the residents. The money collected is then used to purchase soil and farming equipment.”

She also said anyone interested, including retirees and unemployed individuals, could join even if they do not have any gardening skill.

Promoting neighbourliness

Pandan Jaya Utara residents' association chairman Ayob Ibrahim said the objective of setting up the community garden was to promote neighbourliness among the residents.

“We want to organise activities for the retirees and senior citizens here. While the young people can play football and jog, there isn't a place for old people to assemble.”

Ayob, who is himself a retired school principal, has been the association's chairman for the past two years.

“There are more than a thousand households in Pandan Jaya, but urban residents seldom talk and each person has his own way of living. Many people don't even know their neighbours.

“People will normally voice their support on social media but few will actually participate. We will continue to work hard to bring people together.

Like-minded 'gardening friends'

Normawati, who is responsible for the herbal garden there, said she would come here every weekend to help out at the community garden.

“It's my hobby. When I was young I always followed my grandmother to the forest to pick up herbs. This made me very interested in medicinal herbs.”

She said she managed to know many kawan kebun (gardening friends) after joining the community garden.

“Before I joined the association, I thought I was a very weird person because while everyone loves shopping, I'm the only one who loves gardening. After joining the association, I've discovered that the residents here actually love gardening.”

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