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!
When she started building this garden, she found the soil to be part sandy with lots of clay and void of organic matter. It was too hard to dig so she used a no-dig method and created lasagne raised beds.
In doing so, she placed cardboard on the ground, followed by a layer of compost, coffee grounds, composted leaves, then a two inch layer of compost and waits for the heat to dissipate before planting in it. She says that this method takes a bit more time but once established, it will flourish.
Besides her compost bays and worm bins, she composts using a worm tower, or worm tube, which she DIY-ed, using a PVC pipe with holes drilled into its sides, and buried into raised beds or in-ground. This is a simple, affordable contraption that anyone can make and use at home. The entrance can be secured using a cap to keep out visitations from vermin.
In addition, Nova says that small spaces can pack in a lot of diversity, her pond being a good example. It contains small fish and dragonfly nymph and attracts insects to the garden, adding to the biodiversity of the space.
To find out more about Cultivate Central’s work, visit their website or Instagram page. If you would like to pay a visit to the Goodman Community Farm, it is situated at the Goodman Arts Centre at 90 Goodman Rd, Singapore 439053. They also build edible gardens, so if you have a project for them, get in touch with Nova!
If you would like to see what other urban permaculture practitioners in Singapore are doing, check out my interviews with Alexius Yeo, Marcus Koe and Ong Chun Yeow. More interviews of this nature will be available in the not too distant future, so please check back from time to time.
If you would like to support my work, I have a Patreon page which you can consider backing here.