Before launching Giving Greens, I was briefly producing microgreens as part of a not-for-profit project called the Perth Urban Farming Project (PUFP). The vision was to serve as a community project to use under-utilised urban spaces to grow food for people in need.

When I was in the UK where I met a lot of homeless people. It was an eye-opening experience as I realised that access to clean, nutritious food was a massive issue. I’m pretty sure that you are aware of their situation especially now as even on social media, there are a lot of content videos like “A Day in the Life of…” where people, even homeless people themselves, show how they live in a day. What their routines are, the meals they eat, how they prepare them, and so on. And if you have watched one, you would notice how their food lacks the nutrition a person needs to have in a day. Having witnessed it myself, hearing from people who have experienced it, made me decide to start growing food and give it away to people in need.

It was never an easy journey for me to really build a foundation for that project. I needed a lot of space for me to grow vegetables, good quality materials (such as seeds, soils, and trays), transportation and a good network of people. I started off by asking people if they had any land for me to use, I had lots of offers but ended up using a property up in Mundaring. I had to do a lot of research and experiment in terms of the seeds and the soil that I needed to use. Also in terms of the process of planting them. Making sure that I was able to grow good quality food. I grew what I could and took it to a store run by a local charity where it was given away.

For this project, I was a finalist in the 2016 WA Young Achievers Awards under the category of Scott Print Environment & Sustainability. Helping people in need was the sole purpose of the Perth Urban Farming Project. As someone who has a bit of background knowledge in sustainability, this has opened doors for me as well to put my knowledge into action. With all the climate change we have been experiencing and whilst living in an urban area that doesn’t have much access to farmland or just even a small garden area with good soil, it was a timely decision for me to create that project as a contribution in finding ways on how to cultivate an area for vegetables, fruits or any edible plants and possibly create more awareness about it so that more people would take interest in a more sustainable way of producing food.

On the other side though, the biggest challenge with PUFP was having the money to buy materials that would make it easier. Financial sustainability was an issue too. It’s one thing to have a project, or an organisation doing good things in the community but it is another to make sure that it can continue indefinitely, especially when people will come to rely on the service. I also didn’t have a vehicle at all in the beginning so getting around was hard, I didn’t have any tools but did end up having some donated. This is why I can really relate to Alan and the situation at Calan Horse Sanctuary which rescues unwanted horses. It is not only the amount of labour that you are exerting your efforts on but also the funds that are needed to sustain the overall operation.

Giving Greens doesn’t experience quite the same issue because it was started as a business, rather than a not-for-profit or charity. But, if ever I have the opportunity, I would like to bring PUFP back one day when Giving Greens and the company are in a better financial position and can “donate” money to the project.

My heart’s desire is still to do good things to support people in need. It is still important to me so it is something I’ll come back to in the future. For now, though, I just want to focus on building the company. I do believe that growing as much local food as possible in urban areas is important, but I’m also realistic in thinking that there has to be a robust way of maintaining and running such things. There is unfortunately only so much you can expect from volunteers. But, if I have to start small, I will do it and hopefully in time with my friends and family’s support, and to those people who support and believe in me, these small seeds that I’m carefully sowing will eventually be reaped in the future – bigger, more fruitful and more stable.