For an Enterprising Malaysian Man, Green Solutions Start right at Home
A veritable mini-orchard blooms at the site of a former garbage disposal area in Petaling Jaya, thanks to one enterprising resident. Photo Credit: George Chong Tuck Seng via Facebook
For most of us, trash is just that: trash. For George Chong Tuck Seng, however, it’s potentially a lot more: the essentials for his “Garden of Life.” The 52-year-old mechanical engineer has turned the area of an urban garbage disposal site behind his apartment building in Petaling Jaya into a 25sqm vegetable garden. Green solutions, as the enterprising resident has proved, can start right at home.
Forced into early semi-retirement three years ago because of a painful spinal condition, Chong decided to do something useful with his extra free time by devoting himself to an old hobby: gardening. Lacking a proper plot, he set about cleaning up his apartment block’s garbage disposal area and transforming it into a welcome patch of urban green. “I told the building management that even though we live in a medium-cost apartment, we could still make it look beautiful,” he told The Star Online newspaper. “I volunteered to do it all, from planting to landscaping.”
He makes his own compost, with which he fertilizes the soil for his fig and soursop trees, and has built fences and garden pathways from scrap materials. Chong gives the produce from his urban garden to friends, neighbors and strangers who ask him for herbs and fruits. “It’s a garden for everybody,” said the gardener, who has also made small flower beds beside his building.
As Chong’s laudable initiative illustrates, often it takes nothing more than a nature lover’s spirit and some long-term dedication to transform dreary urban areas into patches of lush green with vegetable plots and flower beds. Nor do DIY city gardens require much space. “[W]hether you have a little concrete slab behind your house, a fire escape outside your window, or even a tiny balcony, your urban garden can be a veritable Eden of fresh, healthy, home-grown vegetables, and herbs,” a home gardener explains.
Modern urban environments across Malaysia, especially in larger towns and cities, are increasingly becoming jungles of concrete, asphalt, glass, stone and steel. Public parks maintained by municipalities can offer respites of artificial natural environments, but so can homemade gardens cultivated by creative amateur gardeners, who can make wonders in improving their own living environment and that of others in their communities. “I want to give back to the community and this is the right thing to do,” Chong said. Indeed it is.