The Skudai reap the benefits of growing vegetables and herbs in plastic barrels

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FOR gardening enthusiast K. Kalimah, growing her own vegetables in a plastic barrel seemed odd at first.

The 66-year-old said that since planting edible greens such as kangkung, cili padi, Brazilian spinach, spring onion, brinjal and ladyfingers in a single barrel last November, her family ate much healthier.

“We can also save money because I use the vegetables for our meals.

“My family says the vegetables are tastier because no chemicals are used,” she said in an interview at her home in Taman Nesa, Skudai in Johor.

Kalimah said she was able to harvest different types of vegetables and herbs including mint, turmeric leaves, curry leaves and coriander at least 10 times a week.

She also places leftover food and leftovers in a tube attached to the center of the barrel to be turned into compost, which acts as fertilizer for her crops.

“The daily routine of tending to my vegetables is also a form of exercise,” she said.

Kalimah is one of the participants in the food waste barrel program launched by the Skudai Masyarakat Setia Jujur association.

Similarly, housewife Mr Mageshwari, 43, said her husband and three children have been enjoying the fruits of her labor since joining the scheme.

“It is a joy to see the tomatoes, roselle leaves (daun asam), water pennywort, spinach and lady’s fingers growing outside my house.

“I often share the produce with my neighbors and they reciprocate and also give me food,” she added.

The association’s president, S. Kogilavani, said the program aims to educate the community on reducing food waste and encourage more people to plant their own vegetables.

“My husband AK Murugan and I started learning green practices in 2013 and we wanted to share our knowledge with the community.

“Initially, locals were skeptical about planting vegetables in a barrel.

“They were also worried that the compost would emit a foul smell.

“After seeing how the plants grew, we received requests from others wanting to learn this method,” she said, adding that they plan to get into aquaponics soon.

Kogilavani said the food waste barrel scheme was helped by the RM10,000 they received through the Iskandar Puteri Community Grant from the Iskandar Puteri City Council in support of eco-friendly initiatives and low carbon.

“We are requesting an additional grant to expand the program so that it can benefit more residents,” she added.

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