JOHOR BARU, March 31 ― Tucked away in the heart of Medini City in Iskandar Puteri, Johor lies a two-hectare garden that attracts a growing fan base.

Despite its urban location, the garden called Edible Park, is not about ornamental plants and flowers.

Instead, gardeners plant vegetables, fruit and herbs to promote better eating choices.

The Edible Park is a lush garden with local fruit trees, vegetable and herbal plants, while its Heritage Forest showcases the region’s flora.

“Eating local strengthens the entire community, and not just the food supply system.

“There are environmental, economic, health and equity concerns inherent in the food we eat, and the closer to home food originates, the easier it is to know how sustainable it is,” said Johor Green founder Chris Parry when met at the park.

Parry, who is also the park’s curator, said in a local food system, farmers and small businesses are more invested and can be held accountable for their impact on the community.

“Therefore, they are more likely to use practices that protect the environment via smaller carbon footprints, in addition to their produce that is fresher and more nutritious,” he said.

With that, came the idea of an edible garden to promote better quality produce that lessens or eliminates the negative traits usually linked to commercial foodstuff.

Such a concept in an ultra-urban setting have always been popular with organic food fans in developed countries.

Some even volunteer at neighbourhood community gardens to grow and harvest small amounts of food.

Parry is such a person and has been instrumental in promoting sustainable food choices through his Johor Green movement.

The 61-year-old is serious when it comes to what he plants, eat or promotes as it needs to have positive outcomes on one’s health and also the environment.

“From the concept, one can also get better choices on local sustainably grown produce, artisanal food and much more,” he said, adding the Iskandar Puteri community has been very receptive of the park and its objectives.

The park’s collaboration with Johor Green began with the development of their Medini Green Parks that featured edible and heritage components as part of their theme.

The Edible Park comprises a landscape designed to build a community around the important subject of food and incorporate it in sustainable living.

A walk of the green facility revealed small patches of gardens and an orchard that has been personally tended by Parry.

The five-acre Edible Park is an edible landscape designed to build community around the important subject of food and how to incorporate it in sustainable living. ― Picture courtesy of Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MIM)
The five-acre Edible Park is an edible landscape designed to build community around the important subject of food and how to incorporate it in sustainable living. ― Picture courtesy of Medini Iskandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd (MIM)

Visitors can pick-up various types of produce such as yam and other tuber roots that are available.

For the adventurous, they also have a choice of several types of herbs or known locally as ulam that is grown here.

At the centre of the Edible Park, there is a workshop studio where small classes on  certain produce or cooking organic meals are held. Next to it is a cafe that serves food from sustainable suppliers, whereas the 2.8-hectare Heritage Forest is located just opposite the road.

Parry said the produce from the Edible Farm is on sale every first Saturday of the month.

“We generally sell what is available for that month such as tuber roots, salads, roselles and also various herbs.”

Organic producers are also invited to promote their produce on that day. However, Parry noted prices are kept to the prevailing market rates for similar organic produce.

Parry, who is popular with his Johor Green movement, is keen on cultivating a green and sustainable urban lifestyle among the local community.

“Basically, I manage Medini Green Parks in providing year round programming while also nurturing enterprises and community around sustainability and green values.

“We are also working with landowners UEM Sunrise to organise regular Green Markets at Puteri Harbour and the Iskandar Puteri area.”

Parry said several activities were planned to allow residents, workers, visitors and the community in general to experience it as a city built within a park.

They recently completed their first Iskandar Puteri Edible Festival here on March 3.

“This platform gives us extraordinary tools to encourage green living as part of a modern urban lifestyle in this new city of Iskandar Puteri.”

Medini Iskandar is a 2,230-acre integrated urban township development in Iskandar Puteri with facilities such as Pinewood Iskandar Malaysia Studios, Kota Iskandar, Puteri Harbour, Legoland Malaysia, Gleneagles Medini Hospital and education hub EduCity.