Singapore’s gardening community and growing your own food
Jiang Kai Jie
If you’ve ever walked around your neighbourhood, you’ve likely seen a community garden teeming with lush green plants. However, have you ever wondered just how many of such community gardens there are in Singapore? On first thought, you may think there are dozens or hundreds of such gardens. In fact, there are actually over 1600 community gardens all over Singapore!
Fostering the kampung spirit with community gardens
These community gardens are cultivated by likeminded gardening hobbyists and have fostered community spirit since the launch of the “Community In Bloom” programme at Mayfair Park Estate in 2005. Besides sprucing up the scenery and bringing folks together, these gardens also grow various edible crops which can be harvested. Organisations such as AVA have also launched programmes such as the MasterGrower programme in 2015 to teach gardening enthusiasts the skills to grow leafy and fruited vegetables in HDB estates.
The community is no doubt passionate about growing these edibles as can be seen from their Community Garden Edibles Competition. This serves as a platform for enthusiasts to showcase the fruits of their labour and compete with each other for who has the longest and heaviest crops. Through the competition, gardeners also get to exchange their knowledge, raising the overall horticulture knowledge of the Singapore gardening community.
NParks also holds an annual Community Garden Festival for the gardening community to take part in. The festival comprises of talks, tours and webinars aimed at making gardening accessible to all while providing tips and fun DIY ideas. There is also a marketplace offering special promotions and deals during the duration of the festival.
Seeding our food security
As the Covid-19 pandemic has shown us, our food security should not be taken for granted. Significant effort has been taken over the years to secure our food security and reduce our reliance on imported foods. Despite not making up a significant portion of our local food production, community gardens can give people a greater appreciation of local food production while growing some additional food that they can harvest from time to time.
Now seeing how lively the gardening community can be as well as its importance, you might be thinking of how you can get started and join the gardening community. As part of the “Gardening with Edibles" initiative launched in June 2020, NParks has given out 460,000 free seed packets to grow edible crops such as Kangkong, Caixin and Kailan. This initiative brings the community together to achieve NPark’s “City In Nature'' vision which is a key pillar of the Singapore Green Plan 2030 to advance the nation’s agenda of sustainable development. You can register for seed packets on NParks’ website when they open registrations for seed packets and a seed packet will be delivered to you.
Besides seeds, you will also need somewhere to plant your seeds. If you have your own pots and soil, you can use them to plant your seeds. However, if you don’t, an alternative would be renting an allotment garden. An allotment garden plot consists of a raised planter bed (2.5m x 1m) and comes equipped with soil in the planter box, as well as a mini storage area for tools. There are a total of 23 allotment gardens around Singapore and the lease for a plot is usually for 3 years at $57 a year. However, plots are limited so it is a good idea to keep an eye on the plots available if you intend to lease an allotment garden plot.
Lastly, it might be daunting starting out in gardening but there are plenty of resources online to help you out. NParks has several resources on their website with topics ranging from gardening etiquette to caring for your plants. And in case you can’t find something on their website, don’t feel afraid to approach your local gardening community for advice.