A growing venture

Nurhusna (second from left) guiding residents (from left) Rosnah Rahmat, Sanisah Senin and Rosli as they tend to ginger plants at the community garden.

THE Kangkar Pulai Kenari Flats in Johor Baru, occupied by mostly low-income residents, has been shortlisted in this year’s Town and Country Planning Department (PLANMalaysia) Green Neighbourhood Award contest.

Its residents committee chairman Rosli Othman said they were proud to be the only neighbourhood in Johor to be shortlisted in the award’s high-rise category.

The flats, comprising 10 four-storey blocks with 600-odd residents, have been occupied since 1998.

This was the first time it was shortlisted for any award, said Rosli.

“I think our community farming project and compost-making efforts, which garnered the support and cooperation of residents, helped get us shortlisted.

“We were pleasantly surprised when Iskandar Puteri City Council (MBIP) gave us the news.

“Four judges from PLANMalaysia visited us to hear our presentation,” he said.

He explained that residents had embarked on a small community farming project in December last year. With the help of MBIP and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), located nearby in Skudai, the project flourished into a garden.Rosli said the city council and UTM had been supportive and provided resources and knowledge to improve their community farming project.

He also thanked the Sultan Ibrahim Johor Foundation and Raja Zarith Sofiah Foundation for including the flats in their respective community pilot projects which, in turn, motivated the residents to start the farming initiative.

He highlighted that the garden situated near Block A1 had a wide variety of flowers, vegetables, fruits and herbs such as banana, papaya, turmeric, ginger, ladies’ fingers, spinach, ulam (salad) and chilli.

“Besides that, we also rear chickens and use their droppings as fertiliser for the plants.

“Most of all, we are happy to see the commitment and strong community spirit among residents who have come together to tend to the garden.

“The project served as an example and had a positive effect on others in the vicinity, with some starting their own farming project.

“We hope we impressed the judges with our presentation and showed them how far we have come because before this, the plot of land was lying idle and filled with undergrowth,” he said.

UTM School of Education senior lecturer Dr Nurhusna Abdul Wahid, whose team has been helping the community by imparting knowledge and lending manpower to enhance their efforts, said such initiatives had potential to bring the residents together for a common goal.“The community’s response towards this project has been encouraging.

“UTM provided ideas and suggestions to improve on an already excellent effort.

“We donated seedlings, equipment and fertiliser to the community to further help them in their efforts to expand the project to other blocks at the flats,” said the lecturer who specialises in agriculture education.

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