The idea of slow living for Kimberly Hoong is simply taking a step back and not getting caught up in the daily grind. The 24-year-old once suffered from anxiety as a result of packing too many activities within a day.
Kimberly, the deputy head of Foodscaping at Edible Garden City (EGC) in Queenstown, says: “Being in nature makes me realise that there is so much more out there (in life). Slow living translates to happiness because I live more consciously and mindfully, thinking twice before I buy something.”
The EGC, an urban farming social enterprise, sells fresh produce to food and beverage outlets, builds and maintains food gardens in the city, and conducts farming workshops.
She adds: “You don’t need so many clothes or all the expensive food to be happy. You don’t need to earn a million bucks. You can be happy if you learn how to live simply.” The millennial female farmer discovered her passion for farming at 19.
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She started an urban farming group in the National University of Singapore (NUS) that involved environmentally related activities such as visits to community gardens and local farms. The group also set up an edible garden in school with composting and vermicomposting, which is the product of the decomposition process using various species of worms to create a mixture of decomposing vegetable or food waste.
As fulfilling as the work was, Kimberly often felt tired as she overloaded herself with too many activities. It wasn’t until a life-changing six-month stay in the Indian Himalayas that made her see things quite differently.
The trip was part of an exchange programme during her Yale-NUS College days. On that trip, she realised that she could live life and take things at a much slower pace.
Of her experience, Kimberly, an environmental studies major, recalls: “I did not have to squeeze so many things within a day, but I still felt that I’d learnt quite a lot of things.”
Kimberly Hoong tending to the EGC garden in Queenstown with pockets of sweet fruits, edible flowers, vegetables and fragrant herbs.
The trip turned out to be mind-opening. Kimberly went on hiking trips, village homestays, and visited non-governmental organisations such as Waste Warriors, which undertakes waste collection, waste management consultancy and event waste management in different parts of India.
Being immersed in the local culture also made her realised that there were alternative ways of living – not just the fast paced one that she was so accustomed to in Singapore.
Kimberly notes: “I wanted to break away from all of the materialism, because I felt that the consumer culture we live in is not sustainable for both mental health and the environment.”
When she started working at the EGC in 2018, her desire was to get consumers to actively question the origins of their food, and for people to be more mindful and thoughtful about the things they ate.
“By doing all these, one will naturally take on a slower lifestyle,” she says of the changing mindset. “Even though things can get busy at the farm, I don’t get burnt out because I’m doing what I love to do, as well as taking a step back and looking at the larger picture.”
Kimberly concludes: “People often forget that there are many ways to live. I made a choice that is aligned with my values – and that makes me happy.”
Photography Frenchescar Lim
Art Direction Alice Pin
Styling Dolphin Yeo
Hair Ash Loi/Sonder, using Keune Haircosmetics Singapore
Makeup Aung Apichai
This story was first published on Her World’s Jan 2020 issue.