However, by the end of December, the number of volunteers had been reduced to one. Siew, who was farm coordinator, was left to tend the farm by herself until the farm was relocated to Sungai Buloh.
CETDEM was also looking for another site as there was no written assurance from the owner that it could use the site for a long term. In addition to that, other plots around the farm were heavy users of ag-rochemicals, which drifted into the farm and contaminated the irrigation water.
Transporting the produce to custom-ers was also a problem. Initially the vegetables had to be lugged by Siew in big sacks for a kilometre to the bus terminals. The committee began its search for a cheap and reliable vehicle since a German grant they had received to cover certain farm costs (organising work camps, tools and volunteers’ allowances) did not include this. Sceptics were doubtful of the farm’s economic viability.
The farm, however, continued to receive visits by children, especially those from orphanages who enjoyed getting their hands soiled, harvesting vegetable, catch-ing insects and handicraft activities related to organic farming.
In 1987, however, CETDEM founding member Datuk (now Tan Sri) Dr Salleh Mohd Nor made an offer: the organic farm could shift to his land at Kampung Paya Jaras Dalam in Sungai Buloh. As such the farm relocated to a new home, and work continued enthusiastically in full force. They also received partial funding from the international movement Bread For The World to help with the running of the farm from 1989–1992.
The farm was also garnering enough success to attract the attention of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) and the Agriculture Department. In 1990, both parties would show an interest in organic farming, with the former particularly interested in the organic way of cultivating rice.
In years to come Siew was farming as well as conducting educational talks and camps on-site, introducing different groups of all ages to the joys of farming organically. But all of this added to her workload. This was compounded by the fact that it was hard to recruit additional staff. Other NGOs were also approached, but showed little interest.
Siew had hoped that the farm would serve a bigger purpose as a community development platform, but with the focus on production and logistics, this could not take off because it was too new a concept to the public. With other organic farms slowly starting to blossom in other areas, Siew felt that it was now time to take things to the next level with kitchen gardening, organic farming/gardening training courses, exhibitions, public forums, public talks and seminars to increase public awareness. CETDEM thus started the Kitchen Gardening Group (KGG), the Farmer’s Groups (FG) and the Friends of CETDEM Organic Farming Project (FCOFP), which saw it engaging the public and encouraging them to compost and start their own organic vegetable gardens in their backyards. It also provided advice to those who wanted to set up organic farms and shops.