Farewell my garden. You are unlike any of the gardens I have shaped. In terms of money, barely any was spent on you. You were made of waste, scavenged together. You ignited from three bags of composted food waste – a friend’s contribution. Plants grew from seeds of eaten fruits. Plant cuttings taken fondly from families, friends and around the neighbourhood. The fertility came from our kitchen scraps, dried leaves the landscapers swept up, logs from pruned roadside trees, and pee. Even water, none of it came straight from the tap. Aside from rain, I spoiled you with flavoured water: mop water, shower water, rice water. Don’t feel upset, I did splurge on you once; I burst a pipe while digging in a garden for heliconia rhizomes, and had to pay for a plumber.
In terms of time, I was in no rush. There was no client, no remuneration, and no deadlines. As such, you were nurtured more than manufactured. I realized my zeal for gardening one day, when I came home to tend to you after a full day of paid gardening work, while my toddler waits impatiently by the gate in her blue swimming suit.
Before it all. Yellowing grass with bald patches.
So, thank you my garden, for being a small haven I could escape to, whenever living in this sprawling, car-centered city became unbearable and frustrating. You shielded me from the nakedness of modern ‘open living’, and I could live freely at home with windows wide open. Continue reading
Siang Yu is a friend and fellow farmer at Edible Garden City. She is also an environmentalist and translator. She is currently on a sabbatical in Indonesia. People find it funny that we full-time urban farmers choose to go to farms during leave from work. Here is the first guest post about her trip…
Earlier in January, I went to Yogyakarta because I had heard that permaculture was gaining traction there and I wanted to see it for myself. Thomas and my colleague Imran briefly mentioned Bumi Langit to me once, and I thought it would be a good idea to visit them. Bumit Langit is founded by Iskandar Waworuntu in 2006. He had started a farm in Bali prior to this and I later learned from someone else I met while travelling that Pak Iskandar went to Sumatra to learn about farming. They were a little difficult to contact – I emailed them 2 weeks before I left for Jogja, but never got a reply. So I decided to wing it and found a driver when I arrived in Jogja who could take me and my friend Adiel to Bumi Langit in Imogiri directly.
At Bumi Langit, we met Mas Salas, the person-in-charge of the warung (shop/eatery), when we decided to have dinner there. After learning that I was interested in permaculture and was keen to volunteer with them, Mas Salas sat down with us and we had a very long and engaging chat about permaculture beyond agriculture – permaculture as a lifestyle. It was meeting a kindred spirit. We spoke about capitalism, the pharmaceutical industry and the poison that is television (and Indomie haha). He emphasised the importance of differentiating between human need and human greed. We could choose to fill our lives with junk that we are told we need or we could critically decide for ourselves what the things we truly need are. Rooted in the principles of Islam, Mas Salas said, “Whether we go to heaven after we die, that is decided by God. Why don’t you make your own heaven while you are alive?”