Creating a community garden in Kuching

The Borneo Laboratory space.

KUCHING: The upcoming Urban Green Pockets Project organised by Borneo Laboratory aims to create a community garden and food bank right in the heart of the city.

One of the aspects of the project is also to address plastic waste by repurposing plastic bottles as vehicles for vegetables in the community garden.

Wendy Teo, the founder of Borneo Laboratory, said another aim of the project was to create more outdoor spaces where people could meet safely.

“Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have realised that it is not very safe to hang out in enclosed areas,” she told New Sarawak Tribune.

The project is established at Think & Tink, formerly known as Ting & Ting Supermarket, and it is supported by the Cultural Economy Development Agency (Cendana).

An artist’s impression of the vertical edible garden on the rooftop of Think & Tink. Photo: Wendy Teo of Atelier

Elaborating on what the project would entail, she said two architectural installations would be set up.

She said these installations were designed by Wendy Teo Atelier, but the effort was put together by the Borneo Laboratory team.

“The first is the Time Tunnel, a herb garden which will be set up next to the Think & Tink building. The other installation on the rooftop will be for the planting of vegetables and herbs as well,” she explained.

She said events would also be organised as part of this initiative, albeit on a smaller scale as all events would need to comply with the standard operating procedures (SOPs) for everyone’s safety.

“If more people are interested in these events, we will schedule them in sequence to ensure that the community gets to participate while at the same time ensuring SOPs are adhered to,” she said.

Community participation and engagement

Being based on a community participatory model, the Urban Green Pockets Project encourages community engagement and involvement in numerous ways.

Firstly, Teo said people could participate by contributing their plastic bottles to be repurposed for planting vegetables in the edible garden.

The #plantlifefromplastic campaign needs a total of 1,500 units of 1.5L plastic bottles, which can be dropped off at Think & Tink from March 6 onwards.

On top of this, there will be various collection points that will be set up at Vivacity Megamall, The Spring, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Segi College Sarawak, and UCSI Sarawak.

The #plantlifefromplastic campaign needs a total of 1,500 units of 1.5L plastic bottles.

“The second form of participation is by taking part in the event as volunteers or vendors. Those interested can look this up on our website (www.borneoartcollective.org) and sign up.

She said many people had picked up new skills while staying home during the Covid-19 pandemic, but they did not necessarily have a platform to showcase their skills or products.

“We thought it would be a good idea to engage these people as vendors so they can present and sell their products such as crafts, sourdough bread, and so on as well,” she said.

Another way to get involved, she said, was through workshops.

“So it will not simply be just a section of viewing the greenhouse but also a way to learn new things and have a chance to think and do something meaningful,” she said.

Project inspiration and timeline

Teo said the idea for the project occurred to her in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was around May or June that I had this idea. After that, the actual production and looking at potential designs for the installations were in September.

“Then things began to solidify further and we managed to secure the funds in October. From November onwards, we started engaging different people to work on the project,” she said.

She said the team was trying to make things happen and thus, needed a lot of community support.

While she hoped that the project would be ready for the official launch by April, she emphasised that this tentative date would depend on the Covid-19 situation.

Wendy Teo, founder of Borneo Laboratory.

Hopes for the project

Teo said the Urban Green Pockets Project was a form of invitation for more collaborations and more daring projects.

“It is an invitation for more projects to motivate thinking and collaboration as to how the community can work together tangibly,” she said.

She expressed delight that many of the people whom the team had reached out to had agreed to their project proposal and were willing to work together.

“We all have our skills and professions and we can all contribute. But if no one kickstarts anything, then no projects like this will happen,” she remarked.

She hoped the project would be able to inspire collective efforts from various entities to bring a positive benefit to the community.

By sharing this project with the public, Borneo Laboratory aims to redesign the kind of relationship one can have with the natural environment – especially on what can be done individually or collectively to bring the idea of self-sustainability into reality.

More information and further updates can be found on Borneo Laboratory’s Facebook (@Borneo Art Collective) and Instagram (@Borneo Laboratory).

Alternatively, more information can be obtained by contacting Tham at 016-2983987 or by writing to blablearning@gmail.com.

Wendy Teo, founder of Borneo Laboratory.