Hands in the soil, tending the earth, sowing seeds that sprout, and growing food that nourishes the body and gives just as much sustenance to the soul. This is what’s happening at various pockets of land in Kuala Lumpur, where once neglected and unlikely urban areas are turned into beautiful, lush and fruitful spaces.
In one such space, the Dignity Kitchen Garden project has a goal that is far more noble than beautifying community spaces. Eats, Shoots and Roots tended to this project where disadvantaged children are now learning to grow their own food.
The Dignity Kitchen Garden project in Sentul began in 2014 and aimed to encourage urbanites to contribute to their community by reconnecting with the natural environment through getting their hands in the dirt and growing flowers, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees, says Design director of Eat, Shoots and Roots Shao-Lyn Low.
This project was spearheaded by Seksan Design and the Dignity for Children Foundation and in collaboration with Eat, Shoots and Roots, which was funded by Think City, a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd.
The project, in collaboration with Seksan Design, involved turning 2,000 sq ft of unused land into a verdant edible garden.
Built with the aid of volunteers from the general public, the edible garden is now being cared for by the Dignity for Children Foundation, which is a non-governmental organisation that provides holistic care and education for urban poor children in Kuala Lumpur.
Comprising raised beds filled with thriving edible greens and vegetables, the garden is a flourishing oasis that is managed by the kids.
The Foundation also runs the Eat X Dignity Café next to the edible garden. Shao-Lyn says that the herbs in the edible garden are used in the preparation of meals for customers. For example, the laksa leaves are used in the Nyonya laksa dish.
“However, the produce from the edible garden is not sufficient to supply the restaurant, but the main objective is not about having a farm to supply the kitchen. It’s about bringing people together and savouring the fun of growing their own vegetables,” she says.
Planting and nurturing these pocket urban farms is a part of the group’s endeavours in Kuala Lumpur, and includes the World Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) Malaysia edible garden project, which began in 2017.
Shao-Lyn says the 10,000 sq ft plot at Jalan Hang Jebat, Kuala Lumpur, allocated by the YWCA, was originally an unused site which was located behind their hostel. A few months of work later, a bountiful edible garden has emerged, with a variety of vegetables, fruiting plants and herbs.
Now managed by the girls from the association’s vocational training centre, the YWCA has plans to start their own café to provide more jobs to those in need.
Eats, Shoots and Roots
This story first appeared in Live! 2019 magazine. Download your copy of the magazine here.