Nova Ceceliana Nelson is a permaculture designer who wants to help people grow food regardless of how small their space is. At the Goodman Community Farm in Singapore, she uses the garden to showcase what urban permaculture looks like, where upcycled materials are used, and how one can create closed loop systems to turn waste into valuable resources.
At this space where food growers, artists and the community converge, she organises workshops for children and adults to connect them to nature and growing food.
The Goodman Community Farm consists of a forager’s garden and community microfarm. At the forager’s garden, there is a herb spiral, mandala garden, pond, three-bay leaf compost area and wormery, while the community microfarm is a place to test out different methods of growing food.
Nova sees waste as a resource and collects landscape waste, cardboard, logs, coffee grounds and food waste from a café on the premises and uses it around the garden. Nothing goes to waste here. Find out more from this video interview I conducted with her!
Ong Chun Yeow is an avid composter, with two compost set ups at home – an aerobic one in his HDB corridor and an anaerobic one in his kitchen – plus a vermicompost bin situated at his rooftop community garden allotment. Also, when he was working part-time at the Funan Urban Farm, he set up a large aerobic compost bin on their rooftop garden which is still active. All his compost goes back into the different gardens where the compost set ups are situated, creating a closed loop where nothing is wasted. If you are looking into composting at home in Singapore, you should definitely check out his approaches.
Chun Yeow believes in space efficient gardening, and having a wide selection of plants to encourage biodiversity. With a limited space of 4×1 metres, he experiments with bio-intensive growing, cramping as many plants as he can while sustaining soil fertility. Through this method he has succeeded in having a high yield with minimal inputs. He had his soil tested not too long ago and it was found to be very fertile with a high level of nitrogen. To find out more, watch the interview I did with him below.
This is an update from my last interview with him 5 years ago, to see how his garden has evolved over time, read the interview here.
When Marcus Koe joined the neighbourhood Jalan Senang Community Garden in Kembangan, Singapore, he was looking to grow vegetables in-ground. He was surprised to find that nobody was keen to take on a large plot of land near the entrance of the garden, which was filled with grass and weeds. He requested for this spot and started to implement permaculture methods on it.
Situated on a slope, rainfall makes its way into this part of the garden first. As the soil was compacted, this area was waterlogged on rainy days, and on sunny days it was hard. It was a challenge for him to grow vegetables here and he found that plants would not thrive in the beginning.
He decided to use a banana circle as a solution. He planted a cluster of bananas in the formation of a circle, with a 50cm deep ditch in the middle, and filled it with leaves and other organic materials, including compost that he makes together with others in the community garden.
This ditch also functions as a convenient place for him to compost his bulky garden waste. It also allows water to collect in there, meaning there is no stagnant water. In addition the ditch functions like a sponge, releasing water to the plants around it when required. As the organic matter breaks down, it feeds the plant and improves the soil.
The bananas started to do well and he grew other plants around it, and designed the garden around the bananas, using materials such as logs and leaves from the immediate vicinity of the garden. He also planted leguminous plants like pigeon pea as a nitrogen fixer, and as It matured, he would also prune the branches and leave it on the ground to add fertility to the soil. To find out more, watch this interview!
Russel is a plant collector that I got to know through Instagram. His user name is @journeythroughparadise and it’s easy to see why this description is apt. His account showcases his exceptionally wide range of plants. From bromeliads to cycads to palms, gingers, and aroids, this is one of the most amazing private gardens in Singapore that I have viewed.
In this garden plant tour and interview, he shares how he designed and built his garden from scratch. Also, meet his four friendly dogs, who get along well with his plants.
For the full garden tour and interview, please watch the videos below.