Farming in Her 80s
A Pahangite Grandmother Enjoys Organic Agriculture
Farming the Future
Written by HoO Zhi Xin
Last Edited by Lim liang chun on 23 August 2015
It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!
A few weeks ago, Mr. Zahir, Feiven, Haziq and I visited Jerantut, a mid-size city located peacefully in Central Pahang. We were there for a one-day workshop to discuss flood mitigation with the Department of Irrigation and Drainage. But before things got too serious, we decided to sneak out the day before the workshop began to take an evening walk around this surprisingly funky little town.
As we strolled along the streets, we saw a few rumah papan that aroused a feeling of nostalgia; even in rural areas, townships are under rapid development and vernacular houses like those that we saw are hard to be seen. It felt refreshing to walk around in a slow-paced town like Jerantut.
Out of nowhere, we were surprised to find an open space cultivated with crops. In it an old lady in her 80s was crouching under the warm evening sun. She was gardening.
Popo makes time to talk to trespassing strangers. Hmmm...
As architecture students, we often made grand proposals that included "urban farming" as a strategy to promote "environmental sustainability" in our designs, but the truth remained that I'd rarely seen people practice it in real life.
Like 10-year-old kids who just had their first encounter with a shiny pokémon, we yelled at the poor old lady "Popo! Popo!" as we ran across the small farm in hopes of getting an interview with her for our Titik Peluh readers.
Popo soaks up the love.
Popo planted various crops, mostly vegetables, in her small farm.
"Popo, has anyone stolen your vegetables before?"
I noticed there were no fences around her farm.
"No lah. Nobody's going to steal these."
"Well," I thought, "social trust is often higher in rural areas." Still, it was impressive to actually see this level of confidence play out in the open.
Popo"s secret to success
Popo was pouring fertilizer into the soil; all of her fertilizers were homemade compost which contained not even a single drop of chemicals.
Everyday she'd water her crops in the evening and sometimes she'd apply some fertilizer.
Popo started farming when she was in her 70s. It's never too late to start living the life you want.
Popo's friends, mostly around the same age, would occassionally help her sell her organic produce. As opposed to the marked-up prices that organic fruits and vegetables would fetch, Popo's organic goods were sold at affordable prices.
Then, there were some of her neighbours who grew vegetables and fruits in their homes as well. It was really inspiring to witness the self-sustaining spirit of this community.
Popo thinks farming is fun.
Popo said she enjoyed farming a lot.
As one of the pioneers that started urban farming in her neighbourhood, her decision to farm has brought about remarkable changes in her community; she has inspired some of her friends, also in their golden years, to pick up farming as a way to live healthily and provided affordable and easy-to-access organic produce.
Popo inspires and makes an impact on her community.
Well into her 80s, she remains strong and healthy by sustainably deriving economic and social value from her environment. Her cheerfulness and optimism gave a whole new layer of meaning to our trip to Jerantut.
Finally, we present to you Popo!
From left to right: Me, Popo and Feiven