By Mei Kuan
Lahat Road YMCA, in collaboration with Station Y and 15 Clarke Street, organised a Zoom presentation on urban farming and community gardens featuring Associate Professor Dr Richard Ng, an Ipoh City Councillor.
Besides being the Chairman of the Coalition of Perak Caring NGOs, Dr Richard also serves as the President of Ipoh City Watch as well as the Lions Club of Perak Silver State.
The enlightening, free-of-charge discussion was hosted by Dr Leong Oon Keong. Apart from Zoom, it was also live streamed via the Facebook page of Lahat Road YMCA on the evening of October 1.
According to Dr Richard, urban farming refers to growing plants and rearing animals that produce food within a city or town.
“It also comprises processing and then distributing that produce throughout the city,” he explained.
On the other hand, a community garden involves a group of people turning a plot of empty land into gardening space that residents could share.
“It is a shared plot of land where people gather together to grow fresh veggies and flowers. It turns ugly, unused spaces into green, productive vegetable plots as well as give apartment dwellers a chance to enjoy the pleasures of gardening,” he expressed.
The one-hour session explored the many benefits of urban farming and community gardens among others.
First and foremost, urban farms can help increase food security by providing inexpensive, fresh produce to low-income communities.
He pointed out that urban farms are grown in city centres and other densely populated areas, thus cutting the cost of transporting goods by selling to customers who live in the same area.
It also enables the farmers to be more connected to the community they serve.
“Urban farming allows you to start small by using space you already own. This is a huge advantage because purchasing land or buildings big enough for large-scale operations is expensive,” he stated.
Meanwhile, community gardens are able to provide mental health benefits especially in the pandemic.
He reminded all that a community garden is a big project and definitely not one to be taken lightly: “It can take months of hard work, perseverance, patience and planning before your garden project finally bears fruits or vegetables. For many people, the benefits of community gardening—fresh air, exercise, green space, the chance to build community and the taste of a ripe tomato you grew—make the effort well worthwhile.”
Those who wish to participate in urban farming or community gardens can apply to the Ipoh City Council (MBI) from October 1. Application forms can be obtained from the Department of Town Planning or via QR code scan and download from the MBI’s website.