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Bu Sitimariam - Petani Atap Perkotaan

Wow, this garden is really good, Bu, what are you planting?

All kinds, there are antoriums, all kinds of caladium too. There are also vegetables, eggplant, papaya, grapes over there. There is dragon fruit too but it hasn’t produced fruit yet

How many years have you done gardening like this?

Like this? About a year. It started right at the start of the covid pandemic. I used to plant things on the ground level too, right on the riverbank to get some sun.

That means planting things is your hobby, right? Do you prefer to plant flowers or vegetables, Bu?

I like all of them, but there’s more flowers right now. They’re easier to grow, y’know? I used to grow water spinach using a hydroponic system, but after 2-3 harvests I had to buy new young plants again. Potted flowers like this just keep growing, and they give you seeds which you can just plant straight away too.

Oh, yeah. So what do you do with your harvest? Is it for sale or not?

Not really, the garden only produces a little. Mostly I use it myself, but I give it to my neighbors quite often too.

So your neighbors don’t have gardens of their own?

There are a few who have started doing it themselves, so we often exchange plants if we have something good.

So why did you start gardening on the roof like this, Bu?

When I put the plants on the ground floor they always get pecked by chickens. A lot of people here have chickens, right? It's safer up here. Especially if it floods, it can be as high as two meters.

Wow, very high, Bu. How often does it happen like that?

Now it's rare, yes, but it happened on new year’s day 2020. We’ve known for a long time that this is a flood-prone area, and now we all understand the patterns. We put all our stuff on the upper floors, electronics and so on, and put a tall door blocker in place. If the water doesn’t subside then we go in and out through the window so it doesn't get in, especially so that our things don’t get carried away!

Have you been helped by the SAR team?

I have, yes, during a high flood. The water just didn’t recede, y’know, it must have been for around ten days, so I went to the mosque up there. There’s a public kitchen and whathaveyou.

So it makes sense to move the garden up here.

Actually we raised the house because it was a bit crowded below! There were grown up children and young children, too. We wanted to buy a new house but couldn't, so we decided just to add another floor to this one.

Oh yeah, but it's nice to be a garden too.

It's lovely up here. Sometimes the wind is strong, but other than that I just love gardening like this.

Okay, Bu, thank you!

You're welcome.

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