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RCE Kuching’s UCSI Community Garden Initiative

The Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Kuching, situated at UCSI University Sarawak Campus, has embarked upon a positive, practical and invigorating journey toward embracing the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN). Being strong proponents of ‘walking the talk’, they enthusiastically launched the Eco-Campus Initiative in January 2019. This initiative is four-pronged, covering Energy Consumption Reduction, Waste Management, Green Procurement and the UCSI Community Garden. Through this Eco-Campus Initiative, RCE Kuching will make it possible for UCSI University to reduce their carbon footprint and educate their staff and students to work for nature and with nature for a sustainable future.

On the 14th of February 2019, the staff and students of UCSI Sarawak were encouraged to give a unique type of valentine’s gift. Instead of giving cards, soft toys and red roses to each other, they were invited to “fall in love with nature”.  And that is how the UCSI Community Garden was born. Approximately 50 students and 10 staff members laboured together for 3 hours on that morning to clear the land and add some soil to the garden bed.

“The wholehearted response from all the participants was received with great appreciation. We were so encouraged to see that around 30 of the students decided to sign up to be involved on a more long term basis! With this kind of response we are sure to make this garden a great success“, enthused the UCSI Community Garden Advisor, Agnes Toner.

The objectives of the UCSI Community Garden are to produce organic herbs, vegetables and fruit for use in the UCSI student kitchens; to use kitchen waste as compost in the garden; to use weeds and grass cutting waste to produce topsoil for the garden; and to empower participants to be influential community garden ambassadors, leading to a future RCE programme entitled “A Garden for Every Family”.

Associate Professor Dr Yeong Siew Wei, Deputy-Vice Chancellor, Academic and Research of UCSI University, and Chairperson of RCE Kuching, elaborated, “In the process of cultivating and managing this garden we will be successfully addressing and directly impacting our university community regarding four of the UN SDGs; namely SDG 4 – Quality Education, SDG 11 – Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, and SDG 15 – Life on Land.

RCE Kuching has formed a productive collaborative connection with WormingUp and the G.A.M.E.S. PLT Urban Farming Group. Both organisations will be providing expert advice and help on various aspects of the project including donating plants, turning kitchen waste into usable compost, preparing the soil for planting, turning weeds and grass cuttings into topsoil, and improving harvest yields.

RCE Kuching is well on its way to becoming an effective platform through which students can become more environmentally responsible while also learning their respective courses. With the consistent, long term input from the RCE Eco-Campus Initiative, including the UCSI Community Garden, this rising generation will be better equipped to initiate green solutions as an integral part of Malaysian society.