LIFE-LONG Learner 活到老,学到老

  Photo courtesy of natureloveyou.sg

Photo courtesy of natureloveyou.sg

As a child, Uncle Tan was inspired by his mother who offered herbal remedies from her garden to neighbours and family members.  At 13, he was further impressed by a qigong master's accounts of how herbs could save lives. Thus began his lifelong quest to learn about the amazing gifts of nature. 

His jobs in fishing and later in a shipyard gave him the opportunity to travel to countries like India, Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. On his travels, he collected plants and took particular note of how locals maintain their health and treat ailments, especially those with limited financial resources. He asked many questions and tried out what he learned when he came back home. He is also widely read but carefully verifies with several reliable sources before experimenting with a herb or remedy. 

When he landed a job that no longer required travelling, he started seeking land to grow herbs. But the journey was arduous ...

陈先生,深信学无止境。因为工作关系,他曾经去过许多国家。每到一个地方, 他都会收集当地草药样本,和观察当地人如何用有限的资源保健治病。回来之后继续研究实验。他也孜孜不倦,参阅许多书籍。但“尽信书不如无书”,在制定草药配方之前,他总会先验证草药与处方的功能,包括自己亲身实验。

忆起当年,陈先生的母亲喜欢把院子里种的草药与他人分享。 还是学生的他便见证了草药的神奇。 耳濡目染之下,陈先生也继承了这份无私。几年后,在机缘巧合下,他结识了一位气功大师并从他身上更深入地了解草药。只有13岁的他,便下定决心,要努力学习,精通草药,让跟多人受惠。

虽然大部分的人生他都与海相伴,先是名渔夫,到后来在船厂就职,但他对草药的热忱从未降温。每到一个地方,如印度,台湾以及一些东南亚国家,他总找机会收集当地草药的资料,悉心观察与学习。回国后,他抱着一股热忱,到处寻找可种草药的地方,一次又一次的面对种种挫折。。。


5 herb gardens in 10 years

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To transform barren space into fertile land (while holding a full-time job as a condo gardener) is back-breaking work. To finally see some harvest in his Choa Chu Kang plot only to have that taken away -- most people would have given up. But Uncle Tan repeated his efforts in a garden in Dempsey Road, only to lose it all again. He gritted his teeth and decided to start again.  

In 2005,  he finally obtained approval to start a community garden in Jurong West where he lives. Despite the fact that there was nothing but bare ground, and no water source, he was overjoyed as it finally became more convenient for members of the community to get herbs and help from him. He quit his job and started bringing soil to the barren land, one wheelbarrow at a time. People moved by his passion and determination began to offer their help.

在当全职公寓园丁的那几年,陈先生眼看自己辛辛苦开发的园地即将有收获,却被硬生生地没收。先是蔡厝港,然后是Dempsey Road  。。。每次他都咬紧牙关,从头做起。

他一直恳切地希望为了各界人士的方便,能在组屋区开辟草药园。经过不懈的努力,他终于如愿所偿。尽管只是一片混凝土,也没有水源,他仍旧兴致勃勃,毅然辞掉工作,又一次接受开荒的挑战。 泥土用手推车多趟来回铺上的。受到感动的旁观者也纷纷趋前助他一臂之力。
 

NO WATER HOW?

  Photo   courtesy of natureloveyou.sg

Photo courtesy of natureloveyou.sg

To solve the water problem, Uncle Tan arranged to have water supplied by hosepipe to the garden from a unit several floors above. Months later, when he was offering his usual help to a passer-by, it turned out that she was able to reciprocate by helping him install water pipes.

Gradually, the garden took shape with more than 300 medicinal plants,  all cultivated without the use of chemical pesticide or fertiliser. Instead, the garden thrives on Uncle's organic fertilisers, such as charcoal ash and fermented plant waste.

(For many years he had offered free herbal tea 3 times a week at the 938 garden. Regrettably, this service which involves an enormous amount of hard work has been suspended recently due to manpower shortage.)

饮水思源

水是用长长的水管从高楼拉下来的。直到有一天。陈先生如一贯的伸出援手,送草药给一名路过向他请教的女士。感恩的她竟然在短时间内成功地安排草药园所需要的水管。

渐渐的,丝毫不用化学杀虫剂或肥料,只用他自研自创的炭灰和酵素,938 成为了有200百多种的花草树木的茂盛草药园。十年如一日,每逢星期一,三,wu,草药园总用特大沙锅,用大量新鲜的自种草药,熬煮保健茶,免费让居民和到访的客人享用。遗憾的是,这费时费力的服务,因人手不够,被迫暂停。

Further expansions

To meet the increasing demand for herbs, Uncle Tan sought and found a plot in Kranji. While he was very pleased with the scale and growing conditions, it called for punishing hours of hard work in the blazing sun. Most challenging was the uncertainty of the lease arrangement. But for now he just digs in his heels and tries to help as many people as possible, for as long as he can.

供不应求

为了应付日趋增加的需求,陈先生便开始寻找更大的园地。经过一番寻寻觅觅,终于在克兰芝找了理想的环境。更大的规模需要更多精神和体力,在烈阳下长时间苦干,但他劳而无怨,只为租期不定忧心忡忡。

Collaboration

 Photo courtesy of NTU Herb Garden

Photo courtesy of NTU Herb Garden

Apart from inspiring several community groups to start their herb gardens, Uncle Tan is also a founding member of NTU Herb Garden and continues to give educational talks at the garden. The NTU garden was started in 2009 by Mr Ng, a technician who was working in NTU. Despite the many challenges faced (and which the garden continues to face), it is today a thriving healing and butterfly garden. Beneficiaries come from far and near and the garden has benefited NTU's research efforts. In the not too distant future, there could be a new drug that contributes to less painful and more effective treatment for diseases like cancer -- all from the humble blue butterfly pea flower.

开枝散叶

陈先生不但启发居民纷纷开发社区花园,也是南大社区芳草园的开发先驱之一。在2009年,南大草药园开发初期更是亲历亲为地帮黄先生铺上一砖一瓦。如今也受邀在南大草药园授课。众志成城,如今南大的芳草园百花齐放,蜂碟飞舞。但重要的是,它供应草药于本地与各国的患者,也供应草药作为南大科学家科研用途。很欣慰的,不但许多患者感恩,南大也取得突破性的研究成果,有望将平凡的蓝蝶豆提炼成减轻病痛,甚至可救命的药物。

 

Fruit of His Labour 努力的成果

Recognition at Last

In December 2008, in recognition of the benefits to his community, the “938” garden became an official part of the landscape in Jurong West. At the official opening ceremony, Member of Parliament Mr Alvin Yeo cited not only the value of the plants for the community but also the inspiring perseverance of an individual.

Uncle Tan has received numerous accolades from the community and his garden in Jurong West has several times been awarded Gold and Silver medals by the "Community in Bloom" programme.  He was also inducted into the honour roll of the National Park Board’s “Community in Bloom Ambassadors”, in recognition of how he has inspired a love for gardening in many people. Despite being completely independent and not a registered TCM practitioner, his knowledge of plants has attracted the interest of local and foreign universities, and his achievements have been noted in media in Singapore, France, Taiwan and China.

终于得到认可

陈先生的付出终于为他取得了些许荣誉。2008年12月,裕廊西的”938”草药园开幕典礼中,杨康海议员不止谈到了草药的价值也表扬了陈先生不屈不挠的精神。

陈先生也多次获得了国家园林局所颁发的“锦簇社区”金奖与银奖。为了表扬陈先生利用园艺启发大众的努力,他也因此升格成为了“锦簇社区大使”。虽然陈先生不是受认证的中医师,他对草药的认识却也让他有机会与许多本地与海外大学学者交流学习。除了我国,法国,台湾以及中国等地的媒体也都报道过他的故事。

Uncle Tan with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (2014, Clean & Green Singapore)

Gold medal from Community in Bloom (2016, 2014, 2012), Silver (2010)

 Uncle Tan, with Gold Award of Community in Bloom 2012

Uncle Tan, with Gold Award of Community in Bloom 2012