Back to dirt for a sustainable future

Jennifer Rodrigo

Published 39 m ago

Updated 29 m ago


Every morning, Ah Seng takes a walk around a small park close to his home. After about an hour, he saunters into a corner of the park, where for three years he has been planting various medicinal shrubs, one of which is known to help those with diabetes.

Not far away, Azlan Adnan works hard designing and making the “hugels” (raised beds) necessary for a foodscape site or edible landscape, doing this while teaching volunteers. These are not privately owned plots but public sites, any space that is not concretised. This one was a former pasar malam site.

Everyone seems to be going “back to dirt” these days, cultivating more vegetables in their gardens, instead of ornamental plants. Veggie gardens are sprouting on condominium balconies.

Rooftop gardens are being created. Hydroponics are being implemented in households. Aquaponics works with permaculture practices in urban farms. Vertical farming through agric-tech has already begun.

“That’s the idea, actually,” says Adnan, “for people to replicate what they learn, to grow food, not lawns or ornamental plants because growing your own food is like printing your own money. The movement control order provided an impetus and also highlighted food security as an issue.”

Food crisis? Food security? It’s a term that is trending all over the world. What exactly does all this mean for Malaysia? 

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