M.a.D. Garden @Changi - A Case Study in Setting up a Permaculture Garden

We are often told that Singapore is land-scarce and has only 1% of land to grow food.

Is that true?

In fact, we have land around and between buildings that are suitable for urban farming.  The M.a.D. Garden @Changi is one such site.


We are on a mission to find such land to transform them into permaculture gardens which contribute to food security, return nutrients to Nature, strengthen communities and provide the foundation for a socially balanced economic system. 

Many thanks to Vernessa Chuah of Mindful SpaceNicole Chua of Asian Detours and the management of the Civil Service Club @Changi for enabling this to happen.

And many thanks to Ryusuke Kojio of Takenaka CorporationDamian T. of Uniseal and Cheryl Lee and her colleagues from Income Insurance Limited for their support in the form of donations of materials - this will go a long way towards supporting our quest to set up Little Farms Everywhere!


Day One - 20 May 2023

Day One at the M.a.D. Garden @ Changi - TCHS Treasurer Leong Tatt Man and TCHS Member Rachna Johri were at the Civil Service Club @Changi, together with Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte LtdAbdul Razak M Salleh and Kim Lee to set up the new permaculture garden.

Nazzer first briefed the team on the overall approach and plan.

The first step involved preparing the soil - covering the existing grass with cardboard to kill the grass and allow it to turn to compost.

After the hard work, it was kombucha time!

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Two - 27 May 2023

Day Two saw the completion of a spiral garden, thanks to Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri, He Junpeng and Dr Evelyn Tao of Abundant Cities.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Three - 4 June 2023

Day Three - Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and her husband Sanjay had to race to beat the greying skies, and managed to complete a keyhole planter, including a composting point at the centre, just before the heavy downpour. 

Although a short working session, our spirits remained high and it was a good lesson in being flexible and adapting our plans to natural conditions.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Four - 10 June 2023

Day Four - On this hot and humid day, Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and her husband Sanjay, and He Junpeng found relief in intermittent gusts of wind.

We worked diligently to prepare spiral and rectangular beds. By layering pumice, dry leaves, soil, and coco chips, we created a fertile environment for planting. By the end of the session, we had successfully planted tomatoes, ground nuts, and sweet potatoes. For the finishing touch, we also spread perlite around the beds, enhancing the garden's appearance.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Five - 17 June 2023

Day Five was another day of intense heat and humidity but the sight of young saplings filled us with enthusiasm and renewed energy.

Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd and TCHS Member Rachna Johri began the session by constructing two curved planter beds — one in the left corner of the site with carefully defined edges, and the other on the extreme right. With meticulous care, we layered the beds with pumice, dry leaves and soil.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Six - 24 June 2023

The garden is coming alive as Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and Kristine Calingasan started planting marigold, chilli padi, mint, globe amaranth, butterfly pea, mulberry and moringa to create a diverse palette of colours, textures and scent that will attract birds, butterflies, bees and other fascinating insects.

Looking forward to a flourishing ecosystem, where these remarkable creatures can thrive and contribute to the natural balance of our garden.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.

Day Seven - 1 July 2023

The day began with observing plants to assess their growth. Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and her husband Sanjay, Liow Oi Lean and Nur Aqilah Rosli then proceeded to create a second spiral structure for planting and set up an area for composting.

The spiral allows for different soil depths and moisture conditions, benefiting various plants. Additionally, the spiral path helps conserve rainwater flow and prevents soil erosion during storms. Setting up the spiral structure involves laying corrugated paper/cardboard to suppress grass and weeds, stacking bricks in a spiral pattern with 2-foot spacing, and adding layers of gravel, pumice, dried leaves, food scraps, soil mix, perlite and compost.

"This is more than knowledge of farming but knowing people who care about making green and carbon conscious social space."

The planting process started from the centre area of the spiral, where mulberry and moringa stems were planted. The outer areas of the spiral accommodated shrubs such as roselle and chilli plants. Smaller shrubs and companion plants, like globe amaranth or marigold, were strategically positioned to prevent pests and attract pollinators.

"Such activities are therapeutic for physical, mental cognitive health and social well-being."

For composting, we used repurposed cargo pallets which were secured with cable ties or reinforced with metal poles to create cubicles, inspired by Nova Nelson and what is done at Goodman Community Farm which we visited on 21 March 2023.

After enjoying coconut water at the nearby hawker centre, we also helped hawkers clear coconuts and repurpose them to host beneficial microbes for planting.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.


Day Eight - 15 July 2023

Today, Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd and our dedicated volunteers Liow Oi Lean, Joanna Lim, Christine and Adela created our first compost pile from sugar cane waste from the nearby food court drinks stall, aiming to utilize waste effectively and produce nutrient-rich compost.

Additionally, they built a support structure for the tomato plants and a Tee-Pee structure for the butterfly pea vine. Excitingly, we expanded our plant varieties with the addition of passion fruit, roselle and curry leaves, and enjoyed our first harvest of chillies and sweet potato leaves. Together, we are making remarkable progress towards a sustainable and fruitful environment.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.


Day Nine - 22 July 2023

Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and Kristine had the pleasure of hosting 16 volunteers from a corporation, making the day truly special. To make the most of their help, we organized them into three teams, each with a specific task. One group focused on laying gravel and constructing a garden path, while the second team uprooted shrubs along the edges to create space for new planters. The third group took on the heavy lifting, assisting in moving sacks of soil and gravel.

Their collective effort and dedication helped us accomplish all the tasks within 2.5 hours. Their generous support significantly contributed to the progress of our garden project, and we cherish the experience of working together as a unified team.

See more photos here.


Day Ten - 29 July 2023

Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah of Cangkul Zen Pte Ltd, TCHS Member Rachna Johri and her husband Sanjay, and Phyllis Koh started our day appreciating the thriving biodiversity that is being established in our little garden, as we discovered grasshoppers, frogs and lizards among the plants.

The session began with an up-cycling activity using recycled tyres as planters. We planted a variety of crops, including lime, corn, eggplant, lady's fingers and chilli.  Additionally, we utilised coconut shells collected from the nearby food court to create a planter bed, promoting waste reduction. The bed was methodically layered with dry leaves, sugarcane husks (also from the food court), old newspapers, soil, and coco chips.

To enhance the garden's layout, we relocated the composting station, making space for a new planter. At the garden's edge, we planted lemongrass, adding another element to our green space.

At the end of the session we rewarded ourselves with a bountiful harvest of sweet potato leaves, chilli and mint. We savoured a refreshing coconut drink at the food court, capping off yet another productive and ecologically responsible day.

See more photos and time-lapse video here.


August 2023

August was a month of harvesting- a bounty of fresh Roselle, chillis, and wild spinach that we eagerly shared with our dedicated volunteers.

Our efforts didn't stop there – we established a nursery at the garden's edge, fostering the growth of new plant life. We also set up a composting station, strategically layering woody branches beneath a carefully stacked 1/4 compost pile. This included cut-up sugar cane sourced from a nearby food court, alongside garden waste and rich brown leaves. Our ambitions extended to planting a diverse range of crops, including passion fruit, papaya, pandan, calamansi, and basil.

This journey was made even more fulfilling by the presence and support of our incredible folks: Mohammed Nazzer Hamzah, Oi Lian, Kristine, and her daughter, Bala & Family, Sanjay & Rachna Johri who have played pivotal roles in the garden's development.

See more photos and videos here.


28 October & 4 November 2023 - visit by Income Insurance Limited

On 28 Oct and 4 Nov 2023, about 20 employees from Income Insurance spent their Saturday mornings volunteering at the M.A.D. Garden @Changi.
Before beginning our tasks, we provided our volunteers with a briefing on permaculture principles and conducted a short tour of the Garden, allowing them to establish a more personal connection with space.

In groups, our volunteers worked diligently, crafting labels, skillfully cutting and painting palettes, clearing weeds, adding gravel to the spiral and keyhole areas, building a growth bed, and planting new seedlings.

We thank Income insurance for their generous donation of bricks, gravel, and other peripherals and also applaud the commitment and efforts in developing the garden.

To wrap up the session, we shared the harvest with our volunteers, emphasising the sense of community and our dedication to the permaculture principles that underpin our mission.

See more photos of the 28 October session here.
See more photos of the 4 November session here.


If you would like to volunteer, register here.

This Guide will be updated each month to document the setting up progress - do come back to check it out!


This M.a.D. Garden is jointly supported by