GARDEN IN THE CITY GAINS LIFE

The Seksan-inspired garden in the middle of the city is gaining traction as a weekend haunt for city folks needing to reconnect back to earth.
Text & Photography by Jan Yong

Every Sunday morning since late 2018, a group of city folks can be seen helping out in a community garden that’s slowly coming to life.

Tucked on a hillslope between bungalows in the upper crust neighbourhood of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, Kebun-Kebun Bangsar (K2B) is a refreshing slice of greenery that’s part garden/ farm/arts, cultural and play space which is free for the public’s use.

Once inside, you are surrounded by colourful wildflowers, herbs garden, vegetable plots, and fruit trees especially papaya. There is also wild honey available for free tasting.

Scattered among the many vegetable plots are man-made objects for the ease and convenience of humans – tables, chairs, shades, sheds and even an eco toilet. A herb bamboo greenhouse is being planned and is likely to take shape this year.

The local residents comprise a diverse lot – ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits and even a cow all happily making their home here as well as butterflies and various insects.

This joint community effort is spearheaded by landscape designer Ng Seksan who first initiated it five years ago. He and his team of volunteers were lucky they had support from Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s Local Agenda 21 division (LA21), Think City and TNB, as well as from the government and many NGOs.

The 8.5-acre hill slope was formerly a TNB transmission reserve land which was left idle due to its electric pylons and high voltage wiring that run above the site.

Apart from making good use of such idle land, the other reason for the existence of the garden is to educate people on healthy eating. There are no pesticides or any toxic chemicals used and the animal feed is free from antibiotics.

Fertilisers are obtained from the compost structure that’s adapted onsite. Meat and bones and other kitchen waste are recycled into soldier flies larvae which in turn is used to feed the livestock.

The response so far has been very encouraging especially on days when there are events held. The community garden was officially opened in 2018 but gained popularity only in 2019 when word spread about the novel undertaking.

Many of the structures are built with the help of dozens of volunteers while experts on various fields advised on every aspect of the garden including entrepreneurship in which some of the farm produce are sold to the public.

As you enter the garden, on your right is a board that lists out the 10 principles underpinning the existence of the garden – Thread lightly on the land followed by respecting neighbours and civic consciousness, inspiring children, promoting inclusion, giving back, self-reliant, joint community effort, encouraging participation, immediacy and the belief that small actions result in big changes.

Indeed, expect big changes to emerge from this seed of inspiring communal garden as several new offshoots of the concept have been kickstarted this year in various housing communities in the Malaysian capital.

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