TAKING SUSTAINABILITY TO THE COMMUNITIES: A CASE STUDY IN TAMAN MEDAN CAHAYA PHASE II, PETALING JAYA, MALAYSIA
Keywords:community engagement, organic farming, rain-water harvesting, low-income urban, sustainable food sources
University low-income urban community engagement takes many forms. Taman Medan Cahaya Phase II is a low-income urban area not far from the University of Malaya. This part of the Petaling Jaya suburbs (in the state of Selangor) is a microcosm of urban poverty issues and has a history of racial conflict, high teen pregnancies, unemployed youth and other issues. In order to provide the community of Taman Medan Cahaya Phase II with some exercise, an alternative source of income and sustainable food sources, UM’s Community & Industry Liaison Centre of Universiti Malaya (CItRa) collaborated with UMCROPS (UMCares’ urban farming initiative) to establish a neighbourhood farm on unused land in their carpark in 2013. This effort was later supplemented by a rain-water harvesting cum aquaculture project. This project not only provided the community with a visible project around which they could gather and work together on, but it also extended UM’s campus sustainability efforts to its neighbouring communities. This model of engagement made the most of internal (UM) networks and partnerships to ensure a broad-based offering to the community and made the most of available expertise on campus. The collaboration showed that organic farming can become a tool with which to engage communities, nurture relationships and kick-start bigger, more holistic programmes from which the community can benefit. This paper will detail the development of this effort and how it paved the way for more extensive programmes with the community.