Lee said that in order to have healthy, growing plants, we must learn to love them.

Learning a new skill can get you far. Throughout his life, Lee Cho Seng acquired numerous agriculture skills and despite his disability, he worked hard and never depended on anyone. He believes that a positive attitude and the desire to learn can change one’s lifestyle.

Disability is not inability

Lee Cho Seng showing his self-made mixed soil.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This famous proverb is true in the sense that when a man learns a skill, he can make use of it for the rest of his life.

This is what 62-year-old Lee Cho Seng holds dearly throughout his life. As a Deaf, he only found out about his condition when he was seven, as his parents were reluctant to tell him. “I saw my siblings talk and laughed, but I could not hear it, nor I could not laugh at what they were saying.”

However, in the family of nine, he was not alone, as his late elder brother was also a deaf. Lee was determined not to allow his hearing impairment to stop him from living the life he wanted.

Lee is also good at carving wooden decorative items.

After he finished secondary school, he helped his father with the family business.

From there, he learned how to be independent and develop his agricultural skills.

As a farmer, he first practised the art of gardening. “Initially, I failed at growing plants many times as the leaves would wither easily. Everytime I plant something, it would die early, and even if it did grow, it wouldn’t last long.

“However, I kept trying. I learned from my mistakes, did some research about the right seeding method and how to care for it. From then on, I successfully grew my crops.

“I spent a lot of time experimenting different soil mixtures and methods until I finally succeeded. So I can safely say that I am a self-taught farmer,” Lee added.

Lee said that in order to have healthy, growing plants, we must learn to love them.

Prior to that, he also worked in a farm for 24 years. “There, I learned how to plant crops, harvest the fruits and vegetables, and sell them. Over time, people say I’ve developed a ‘green thumb’. My other task at the farm was to use an axe to chop trees off. It is hard work!”

Throughout his years in the field, Lee also learned how to prepare different mixtures of soils that suit different plants, and pretty much anything in general related to planting.

Along the way, Lee — a hardworking and inquisitive man — continue to pick up different skill sets. Among them are basket-weaving and wood-carving which he would practice time to time.

Beginning with zero skills and knowledge, Lee managed to build himself to where he is today. Lee hopes to be able to inspire many to delve into the agriculture and farming industry as he believes the knowledge can help a person improve their life.

Hard at work — Lee sells his produce at the Sarawak Society for the Deaf centre, Kuching.

He believes that disability is not inability, and that If you work hard enough, you can be anything you want. One should have a positive attitude towards life and appreciate the challenges and gifts instead of just looking at the problems.

Currently, Lee is managing the mini farm and gardens around the building of the Sarawak Society for the Deaf (SSD) Kuching. He also has a stall at the premise to sell his farm produce, handicrafts and decorative plants.

Tips to ensure a bountiful harvest Shared by Lee Cho Seng:

• Distance the plants at least 30 centimetres away from each other to avoid withering. This is to ensure no competition between plants in getting nutrients.
• The best time to water is in the morning, but with a considerate amount of water. Do not overflow.
• Fertilise the soil every two months.
• Use safe and organic pesticide only on young plants. Do not use pesticide on older plants.
• To have beautiful crops, learn to love and appreciate it.