PETALING JAYA: Nestled among residential houses in Bangsar, less than 10 minutes away from the incessant traffic, lies a farm slightly larger than a football field.
Kebun-Kebun Bangsar, however, is not a typical farm where vegetables and flowers are grown.
For residents in the area, the 1ha – which is part of a 3.4ha plot of land – is also one that sows positive values.
A resident, who declined to be named, said the benefits of the farm far outweigh any inconveniences caused.
He said it has raised awareness and educated the surrounding community about sustainability, nature and civic-mindedness.
“It’s a real pity what is happening right now,” he said, referring to the order by the Federal Territory land office for the land to be vacated.
“Having Kebun-Kebun Bangsar is such a blessing as it’s a peaceful place away from the hustle and bustle of the city where people can come to congregate and share ideas.”
He said the community garden also helps feed the needy, with its produce sent to soup kitchens that benefit some 700 people.
“It’s inspiring,” the resident added.
For BK Ng, putting an empty plot of land to good use is not only heartwarming but is proof that social responsibility is “alive and well”.
The 60-year-old said he sees a positive connection between the environment and the community.
“People from all walks of life, races and nationalities come to learn and exchange ideas as a community, that’s what’s happening here.
“There’s a sense of belonging,” he said.
Ng said Kebun-Kebun Bangsar had led to similar initiatives in other urban areas, including in Kerinchi and Segambut.
Another volunteer who had taken part in the community garden for over four years, Ken Goh, 56, said the farm cultivated a collective sense of ownership, with recipients of the harvests eventually paying it forward.
“We’ve been donating vegetables to four soup kitchens previously, but since two years ago, some of them have ‘adopted’ a piece of the land to plant vegetables as well.
“So while receiving from us they have also contributed to the farm,” he said.
Kebun-Kebun Bangsar at Lorong Bukit Pantai began five years ago as a community project.
The project was praised by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who gave the farm a special mention in his World Environmental Day speech earlier this month.
The farm’s founder, Ng Sek San, said it was run legally as the land office had given a two-year temporary occupation licence (TOL) in 2016, with the backing of Kuala Lumpur City Hall.
However, in 2018, the TOL was not extended, with Ng only realising that the licence had expired two years later, as stated in an eviction letter. Ng has also received a nuisance notice from City Hall.
The Federal Territory office of the department of the director-general of lands and mines said action was taken against the community farm as it had violated the terms of the TOL for nurseries.
Its director, Muhammad Yasir Yahya, said the terms included the type of crops grown on the farm and that there should not be any permanent structure built under the electric pylons based on the technical feedback from Tenaga Nasional Berhad.
He said the department was supportive of the urban farm initiative but the regulations must be followed for the benefit of all parties.