Back lane makeover a blooming success


Ahmad Syawal (front row, fifth from left) and fellow residents accepting their prize from Adi Faizal (third from right). — Photos: JADE CHAN/The Star and MPS

INSPIRED by the success of their neighbours, residents on Jalan Geliga and Jalan Nilam banded together to create a similar back lane garden in Taman Perwira, Gombak, Selangor.

Geliga Nilam Community Garden head Ahmad Syawal Ab Kadir said the garden was started with the aim of beautifying the back lane and creating a recreational space.

The garden is actively maintained by residents of 10 houses, although a total of 17 households are involved in the project.

“We were inspired by our neighbours’ project called Garden 8 Community Garden.

“Under their committee’s guidance, we started our garden in August 2023,” said Ahmad Syawal.

And a view of the the Garden 8 Community Garden that inspired the creation of more shared gardens in the neighbourhood.And a view of the the Garden 8 Community Garden that inspired the creation of more shared gardens in the neighbourhood.

“We grow mostly edible plants and use organic compost made from garden waste as well as non-toxic pesticides such as neem oil and salt.”

These efforts won them first prize in the Best Back Lane category of the Community Garden Programme and Edible Garden Competition 2023 organised by Selayang Municipal Council (MPS).

Ahmad Syawal said the prize of RM10,000 made all their effort, the time and commitment put into their garden worthwhile.

The competition offered close to RM32,000 in cash prizes to community gardens across four categories.

The award-winning transformation of the back lane in Taman Perwira. The award-winning transformation of the back lane in Taman Perwira.

The other three categories were Best Open Space, Best Maintenance and Best Plot.

“There were 41 community gardens registered with MPS since 2016. Only 28 gardens are now active,” said MPS deputy president Adi Faizal Ahmad Tarmizi.

“The other gardens died off for various reasons, such as members passing on or losing interest in the project,” he said.

Adi Faizal gave away the prizes at a ceremony held near Garden 8 Community Garden, touted as Malaysia’s first back lane community garden. It is located behind Jalan Berlian and Jalan Zamrud in Taman Perwira.

Garden 8 co-founders and married couple Iqmal Fajri Danial and Aida Haniza Adnan started the project in their back lane in October 2021 as a way to look out for neighbours living alone.

“These neighbours were widows whose children had moved out and these women couldn’t travel much during the Covid-19 pandemic period,” said Aida Haniza.

“Gardening gave us an opportunity to check up on them and to socialise with our fellow neighbours.

“We are now like a big family. We went from strangers to now going on trips together with our extended families,” she added.

The two community leaders shared that they sought MPS’ permission and approval before turning the back lane into a garden.

Aida Haniza said the number eight in Garden 8 referred to the pioneer number of households involved in the project.

That number has since grown to 45 households who tend to over 100 types of plants along the 200m back lane.

Garden 8 emphasises sustainable practices, such as rainwater harvesting, turning kitchen and garden wastes into compost, using solar panels for lighting and recycling household items such as boxes and cooking oil.

“In addition to Garden 8, my husband and I oversee two neighbourhood community gardens – Geliga Nilam and Cemerlang Setia, and advise on another gardening project in Shah Alam.

“We also host local and international visitors and students who are keen to learn about our garden,” said Aida Haniza, adding that Garden 8 sells some of their harvest at a Sunday market on the last Sunday of the month.

Proceeds from the sale of vegetables and food are ploughed back into the project.

Garden 8’s committee has also produced an ebook on their community garden, which can be viewed at https://me-qr.com/mobile/pdf/22733456

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