Painting the towns green


Embracing the ecosystem: Yong (right) together with Eats, Shoots and Roots co-founder Shao-Lyn Low.

PETALING JAYA: It started as a passion project among some friends from an urban upbringing who wanted to learn the ropes of growing produce while fostering a greater connection to nature.

This led to the 2012 founding of the social enterprise known as Eats, Shoots and Roots, which has since seen 448 volunteers participating, 5,289 urbanites being trained, and at least 28,992 seedlings being planted as of December last year.

A total of 85 “edible gardens” – gardens whose produce are all edible – and 279 workshops have also been run since then, with the social enterprise racking up three awards along the way.

From its humble beginnings at a patch of land in Bukit Gasing, Eats, Shoots and Roots has since expanded and moved to a site double the size in Bukit Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.

The site in Bukit Damansara is also shared with its sister company Rimbun Montessori, which operates a preschool.

Strategy director Beatrice Yong said the main purpose of Eats, Shoots and Roots was to better empower urban folk with skills and tools to grow their own food and reconnect them with nature.

“If you understand how nature works, you will have more appreciation for it.

“By learning and knowing natural processes, you will know how they affect us,” she said in an interview.

Among its initiatives are edible garden building projects, workshops, and educational and teacher training programmes.

Edible garden building projects, Yong said, aim to teach interested urbanites ways to build their own gardens and grow their own food.

The workshops, she added, were focused on raising awareness for city folk on the importance of nature, as well as exposing them to how food goes from farm to table.

“The lessons teach participants how to start growing from seed and making healthy soil.

“We also advocate a no-dig raised garden approach as this ensures we don’t disrupt the existing soil ecosystem,” she added.

These sessions typically use things that grow easily in a tropical lowland climate, such as sweet potato leaves, Brazilian spinach and kangkung (spinach), among others.

“We also cater to those interested in wanting to have greenery in their homes.

“Our workshops not only cater for the community but also corporate entities.

“There are also programmes tailored for young children,” she said.

Yong added that the gardening journey was not solely about planting but also taking a holistic perspective towards the soil, the Earth, and the ecosystem.

Sowing the seeds: Team members joining children from Rimbun Montessori in their daily garden activities in Bukit Damansara.Sowing the seeds: Team members joining children from Rimbun Montessori in their daily garden activities in Bukit Damansara.

Eats, Shoots and Roots also sells garden merchandise such as seed boxes and planter kits.

“Our social enterprise is also aiming to have a bigger emphasis on composting through an upcoming programme dubbed ‘Wanted Waste’.

“We want to encourage people to manage their waste better. This is ultimately going to reduce waste going to landfills and also less plastics in the ocean and soil,” she said.

Household waste management, Yong said, also played a big role when it came to composting.

“Even simple initiatives like separating degradable and non-degradable waste items make a big difference,” she added.

On what the social enterprise hopes to achieve through its efforts, Yong said: “We ultimately hope for our participants to find joy in the little things such as growing their own produce and appreciating nature while it is still around us.”

To learn more about Eats, Shoots and Roots, visit its social media pages, call its hotline at 018-984 6616 or email hello@eatsshootsandroots.org.

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