ISKANDAR PUTERI: Approximately six months ago, visitors to Marlborough College Malaysia (MCM) may have been non-plussed by lots of fresh digging in an area of the expansive 90 acre site close to its Pre- Preparatory School buildings. However at a coffee morning for parents on 15th January, the College was delighted to invite visiting parents to tour what has been transformed into a highly productive and yet tranquil space, as part of a focus on health and well-being. This week also saw the important milestone of the farm being given its name – Barton Farm. In true MCM tradition, they have made the connection back to Marlborough in the UK and named it after a very old farm, the land of which, although not used as a farm now, falls within the grounds of the original Marlborough College.
With funding for the initiative provided by the parents’ group ‘Friends of MCM’, and with the support, advice and lots of seedlings provided by a team of experts from the charity FOLO, the College is growing a range of organic produce including mulberries, bamboo, sugar-cane, pineapples, bananas, aubergines, sweet potato, pigeon pea, Sarawak eggplant, tapioca, chillis, cucumber, okra, string beans and pandan, all of which will be available, in season, for parents to buy. Groups of pupils are working on a composting project and how to make recycled name plates to identify the huge variety of vegetables growing there. Children across the entire College aged 3 – 18 are involved, whether it be in growing seeds, building beds, or tending the crops. The most recent addition to the farm has been the arrival of ten chickens, providing animals both to care for and study and a number of eggs are being watched closely to see if they will hatch.
Speaking at the coffee morning, Master of the College Alan Stevens commented: ‘We are so fortunate here at MCM that we have this beautiful and productive space where the whole MCM community can come and feel connected to nature and experience the sheer joy of, for example, eating a string bean picked from the plant or tasting for the first time an edible blue butterfly pea flower. Thanks to the hard work and support of all those involved, including FoMCM, without whose support, it would not have been possible, we have had a wonderful start to our farming experience and we look forward to it going from strength to strength.’