What’s unique about the initiative?

This agroecological urban farming movement is a positive vision based on the principles of simple, low-cost, traditional, healthy sustainable food that challenges the dominant narrative of the industrial food system. They demonstrate that you can grow your own food anywhere – small yard, balcony, or street corner. This project connects people to nature and each other, creating a movement of small farmers and urban dwellers who are together building a sustainable future and ensuring food sovereignty.

Most outstanding results

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) has been championing and setting the standards behind the urban garden/farm concept for over a decade. Due to the hike in food prices, the nation’s lack of food security and serious concerns about higher oil prices and food shortages, the green wave in Penang seems to be picking up among the young and the old, especially among those living in the urban areas.

The association began the Natural Farming Project twenty years ago, organising awareness programmes nationally to educate farmers about the dire consequences of using chemicals to grow food and to introduce alternative, natural farming techniques. Over the years, the project was extended to homes and schools to educate the larger community on the importance of growing their own food.

When the Home Garden Project was launched, it attracted urbanites who were becoming more aware of environmental issues and concerned about eating chemical-laden food, opting to grow their own. For Penangites who live in high-rise buildings, CAP has been promoting vertical planting units too. They teach households to turn their kitchen waste into compost and growth promoters instead of discarding the waste, and they train people to make chemical-free compost and home-made fertilisers.

In order to educate the young in schools and the older population through various associations, they provide the technical know-how to start a farm, edible gardens and herbal corners. Thanks to it, the Senior Citizens Association in Penang today have an eco-farm in their new premises, keeping members active and healthy, and the Green Squad from SMK Convent Butterworth school is getting students involved and winning awards such as the Green Flag awarded by WWF Malaysia.

Another effort CAP has embarked on lately is to encourage farmers and the public in general to save their own seeds and share them with friends and neighbours. In this way, future seeds will become more adaptive and be able to sustain and grow in particular climatic and soil conditions, without relying on what big agri-businesses want to sell.

Quote from the evaluation committee

“The persistence that the initiative shows over years, sectors and systems is impressive. The very clear call to action as an answer to the very complex challenges of food sovereignty, poverty and food production is an inspiring example of creating a simple but powerful narrative that “talks” directly to our society in future tense. Especially valuable is the fact that schools are the main beneficiaries of the idea and implementation of the Urban gardening initiatives of PENANG where students build habits, skills and knowledge around food production.”

– Yanina Jason


To know more, read this in-depth article. Also, you can scroll down to download the application form filled by this initiative to take part in the Transformative Cities award.