Urban Jungle Folks is a group of urban dwellers who get together every Sunday to grow food using permaculture methods on a sizeable patch at Dempsey Hill in Singapore. Led by Michelle Tan, this all started when she observed that there was a disused plot of land beside the restaurant she frequented, and got the okay from management to plant edibles there.
Now, after 9 months of hard toil, they have an edible garden with herbs, vegetables and fruit plants including tomato, chilli, Brazillian spinach, mugwort, pumpkin, moringa, rosemary, pandan, torch ginger, turmeric, curry, ulam rajah, banana, mulberry, dragon fruit, papaya among many others. Also there are beneficial flowers such as marigolds, Brazilian button, snakeweed, and Spanish needles.
The group only tends to the plants on Sundays, with a bit of assistance from the restaurant when it comes to watering on some days. There is an emphasis on native plants and plants that suit our climate because these are the ones which will thrive and require less input.
Here’s Michelle of Urban Jungle Folks, who tells us a little about the group, what they are hoping to achieve and their task of the day.
The garden features a classic permaculture design element – the herb spiral – which saves space and allows for plants which have different soil preferences. Also, Urban Jungle Folks practice vermicomposting and composting to cycle kitchen waste from the restaurant back into growing food.
During my visit, the group put together a Hugelkultur bed, which translates as hill mound in German. Simply put, it is a raised garden bed filled with compostable materials. After digging a trench, the Hugelkultur is usually filled with wood logs laid vertically, and is then stacked with branches and twigs, leaves, cardboard, animal manure (not cat or dog) and other biomass you have lying around, and covered with soil and watered. It can be planted in immediately, but it is beneficial to let it rest for some time before doing so. Over time, the biomass will break down and add nutrients to the garden bed.
Wish to participate and learn more about permaculture in Singapore? Message them on Facebook or Instagram to find out if they have slots open for the week. They prefer to keep the group to a small number for now, and given our current COVID-19 restrictions, it is also wise to do so.