I got to know Ben in May 2016 as my interest in urban gardening grew exponentially after getting a rooftop garden allotment under the NParks’ CIB initiative in the beginning of 2016. It really helps with my learning as he is like a neighbour within cycling distance to visit and consult on gardening tips and things.
My initial thought was this guy is really amazing to grow so much within the confined space of his apartment based on good management of time, space and water (i.e. he doesn’t use tap water for watering his plants!). Beware that he can talk amazingly fast which shows how quick he is at forming ideas and thoughts. It is always great to have him for gardening trips and expedition with his endless jokes (nothing beats his one-liners and wisecracks! LOL) and can talk at the same time on interesting ideas and concepts. 🙂
Since then, it never stopped me from being awestruck by his endless energy, ingenuity and tenacious ability to continuously reinvent by breaking things up to start a new project/prototype that improves on the previous system. My hats off to him also to reuse and upcycle materials salvaged/sourced from his neighbourhood (according to his wife, unashamedly as curious neighbours watch) or friends in the Green Thum community.
His “amazingness” doesn’t stop here as he is also quick at learning and picking up skills and knowledge on the go within a short span of time. We had an initial thought to breed Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) when I found some BSFL on my garden. Within slightly over 1 month, he built a trap to attract BSF to lay eggs, a bin for the larvae and successfully bred them for leachate which also effectively help to manage his home kitchen waste.
Last but not least, the most I’ve gained from him is in the knowledge of growing native and the Neglected and Underutilized Species (NUS). This makes lots of sense as these species/plants are easier to grow and maintain with the impending climate change issue. Most importantly, they also have much better nutrition and vitamins! So we are really fortunate and cheers to the garden community world for having such a jolly good fellow, Ben Thum!