PETALING JAYA: Most people would turn up their noses at garbage but one resourceful and selfless apartment resident has created a lush urban garden right behind his building’s rubbish disposal room.
Mechanical engineer George Chong Tuck Seng, 52, achieved this by planting soursop and fig trees as well as herbs on a 25sq m spot at the Latan Biru Apartment in Kota Damansara.
He calls his plot the “Garden of Life” and offers the fruits and herbs it produces to friends and fellow residents at no charge.
Chong said the idea to create the garden came after he was forced to go into “semi-retirement” after being diagnosed three years ago with cervical stenosis, a progressive medical condition that pinches the spinal cord in the neck.
Physiotherapy provided only temporary relief so he quit his job and relied on his savings.
He decided to pursue gardening, a hobby he had cultivated since he was young, to fill his extra free time.
“Gardening is in my blood. My parents and my three sisters all love plants and when I am gardening I don’t feel the pain in my neck at all,” he said.
Chong wanted to create a garden for his apartment after realising that he could contribute to improving the living environment.
“I told the building management that even though we live in a medium-cost apartment we could still make it look beautiful. I volunteered to do it all, from planting to landscaping.”
He did all the work himself. He started by cleaning up the rubbish disposal area at his apartment block and the area behind it before starting work on the garden.
He used scrap material to build the fences and pathways to the garden, spending no more than a few hundred ringgit in total.
He bought seedlings and cuttings but made his own compost to use as a natural fertiliser.
The garden is plentiful, with fig and soursop trees providing him a bountiful supply of fruits.
“These fruits have medicinal properties and some claim that they’re good against cancer. I don’t know how true that is but if any cancer patient asks for them, I’ll give them the fruits for free,” he said.
He added that he would give any fruit, herb and seedling from his garden to both strangers and friends for free should they ask for it.
“It’s a garden for everybody,” he said.
When asked why he did not want to use his green fingers to make money, Chong said the idea had crossed his mind but he eventually decided against it.
“I want to give back to the community and this is the right thing to do,” he said.
He constantly shares his ideas and advice for other urban gardeners on his Facebook account Geo Chong.