Which is why, although I’m still safely untouched by the desire to pop one out thanks to what must be an unrepentantly inhospitable womb, my recent compunction to become an urban gardener has thus been all the more bewildering. The infinite joy to be gleaned from nurturing something with your two hands and then watching it flourish cannot be overstated. It’s as if I’ve been unwittingly swept up by the groundswell of edible garden farmers that’s been quietly but steadily gathering momentum. That, or I’m no longer me, and have long since been abducted by body snatchers.
Seriously though, maybe it’s a sign of maturity. Maybe I’ve been inspired—and encouraged—by the unflagging efforts of leading urban gardening exponents eats, Shoots and Roots (eatsshootsandroots.org), Garden to Table Private Dining (1 Lorong 14/37b, Section 14, Petaling Jaya, +603-7932 5369), and A Little Farm On The Hill (alittlefarmonthehill.com) to encourage more city folk to take the plunge and grow their own.
Whatever the reason, I can most assuredly say it’s an infinitely more gratifying pursuit than adult colouring books.
And unlike conventional gardening, your relationship with the plants doesn’t end with your admiration of them. Rather, the relationship between carer and cared for becomes more intimate when the roles are reversed and the plants become sustenance for their benefactors. Call me soft, but it’s a narrative I find logical and strangely touching, and I imagine it’s how farmers who love their animals must feel when Thumper the rabbit and Tessa the pig eventually become ragout and bacon respectively.
There’s also the myriad perils of pesticides in conventional farming to be considered, of course, and the benefits of knowing the provenance of our vegetables and herbs—even if it’s only a small part of what we consume—are innumerable.
If I had the benefit of a garden, however tiny, which I don’t, I would utilise every square millimetre to grow as much produce as possible. I do, however, have a little landing area which, although small, has been converted into a wonderful functioning edible garden in which basil, lemongrass, rosemary, mint, tomato, spinach, coriander and micro herbs currently, as Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson sang, live together in perfect harmony. It saddens me no end then to see people who are lucky enough to possess expansive gardens but who choose to cover said spaces with concrete, so that they can park the eight grossly under-utilised vehicles they own on it. It’s not unlike being gifted with the talent of music and then choosing to stay mute, though arguably that’s a completely different dimension of perversity altogether.
I’d like to leave you with the thought that if every one of you who reads my column decided to devote a corner of your desk, your windowsill, or your balcony, to growing just one edible plant, you would already be saving, say RM5, on the bunch of basil you buy each week. If not for the sake of your health and for the sheer sense of it all, then the dollars and cents logic, while not mammoth, will eventually add up (I am currently saving no fewer than RM35 per week), as will the cumulative favours you are doing your body—and planet earth—each time you put something honest, authentic, and cultivated with love and minimal impact on the environment, into it. Go forth and plant in peace and joy, my friends.
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