Pay more attention to community gardens

Mr Paul Chan Poh Hoi's letter (Do more to ensure Singapore's food security; June 5) is a timely reminder of the need for food security and our inherent vulnerability in this area.

It is easy to understand why those in Singapore do not think we have a "food crisis".

We live in the midst of an abundance of food and consumer products. We have supermarkets, hawker centres and shopping centres - all of which are competing to sell food to us.

But the need for food security is a serious issue and more thought and planning have to go into it.

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Other than commercial farming, perhaps, more attention could be given to the several community gardens we already have in our newer residential estates, which are tended to by resident volunteers.

Sadly, some of the residents have run out of their initial enthusiasm and these community projects are in a state of steady decline.

These community gardens have the potential to help us take another small step forward in the direction of food security, if more edible vegetables and fruits are grown there.

The produce could then be sold at a reasonable price and possibly generate income to pay for the upkeep of the gardens.

People can also grow their own vegetables right in their own homes; there have been reports of ingenious people who made use of whatever small space there is along the corridors of housing blocks to accommodate planting boxes for vegetables, and convert kitchen scraps into fertiliser.

Many of us did not experience the food shortage during the Japanese Occupation, but we have heard stories about how families grew their own vegetables and roots like tapioca on small plots of land, which helped to sustain them and their neighbours during that challenging period.

Perhaps, community centres could start a new initiative to give out free seeds for vegetables and fruits to interested folk and showcase their produce on social media so that others might be encouraged too.

Lee Kay Yan (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Pay more attention to community gardens'. Print Edition | Subscribe