INTO THE ULU is the permaculture design and consulting arm of Edible Garden City. We are based in Singapore and Malaysia.
Ulu (ooh-loo): Malay term used to denote the wildness and remoteness of a place, with connotations of backwardness.
Permaculture is a term coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in 1978, but really founded way before that collectively by humanity, inspired by Nature. It is a design system based on ecological principles. You design your surroundings such that you work with, rather than against nature. It is about designing sustainable human settlements, and preserving and extending natural systems. While agriculture is a key part of it, permaculture also addresses natural building, appropriate technology, sustainable living, and even proposes an alternative global nation. Learn more.
Our Approach to Design
We design landscapes based on the permaculture ethics of:
- Care for the earth,
- Care for the people,
- Return of surplus.
Our experience is gained from years of working in diverse environments across tropical Asia. From the leached compacted soils of Singapore to the rich volcanic soils of Indonesia, from tree-sheltered gardens to exposed rooftop farms, from sandy soils by the beach to eroded red clay soils. These experiences have given us insights that cannot be gained by specializing on any particular site.
We design systems as a whole. We consider the lay of the land, the existing vegetation, the soil condition, food production, climate-appropriate housing, water management, fertility cycles, waste minimization, biodiversity, ornamental value, and much more.
We put ourselves in the users’ shoes. We think about the maintenance requirements after the initial build and whether resources allow for that. We minimize costs and work within budget. We try to foresee problems that might arise in the long-term.
During implementation, our methods tend to be less invasive and less energy intensive. We do not level slopes or strip existing vegetation bare. We try to find a balance between the use of gas-guzzling big machinery and the long-term benefits of some earth sculpting. We never use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We never design solely for aesthetics or follow global trends.
Some Of Our Projects
- Project Lombong: Food forest, natural farming, agroforestry, aquaculture on a 10 acre agriculture land in Johor Malaysia.
- Project Panchor: Converting a 7.25 acre oil palm plantation into a food forest at Johor Malaysia.
- Project Canossian: Food garden and natural farming in a school in Singapore.
- Project Merbok: Fruit orchard, ponds, vegetable terrace on a 1.3 acre residential in Johor Malaysia.
- Project Spectra: Edible garden on a school rooftop in Singapore.
- Project Green Valley: Natural farming Fukuoka-style on 100 sqm in Singapore.
Thomas’ interest in farming and permaculture stems from a belief that they can solve many of the global issues and crisis in humanity we are witnessing today. He wants to farm in a way that creates abundance without depleting natural resources like the soil, water, fossil fuel, and biodiversity. There are so many complex problems to be solved but he believes that, like Bill Mollison says, “the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”
Thomas has been farming in tropical Asia since 2011, starting from the outskirts of Hong Kong close to the Chinese border, to within the mountains in rural Southeast Asia, to rooftops in downtown Singapore. He is trained in permaculture by Sandot Sukkaew of Tacomepai Thailand. He is also an ISA Certified Arborist®. Before all of this, Thomas studied finance and economics in New York before working in the finance industry for 5 years in Hong Kong.
Graduated with a degree in Business (Marketing), Imran went on to develop communities as a Constituency Manager with People’s Association. Following that, he spent the next two years gaining experience in construction and volunteering on sustainable organic farms in the tropical climate of SE Asia. He is a certified Permaculture Designer. He is an urban farmer at Edible Garden City since 2013.