New urban farming trend: Rent a space, grow your greens

Avid gardeners with limited space in their homes are renting plots of land in urban farms and community gardens to cultivate herbs and vegetables

Love growing plants, but do not have enough space and sunlight along your corridor or cannot get a plot in your community garden?

Fret not. You can rent a piece of land to grow your own greens.

Several private and government organisations are offering plots of land for lease to avid gardeners.

Under a new scheme launched by the National Parks Board at Hort-Park last July, 80 plots can be rented by individuals on three-year leases.

It costs $57 to rent a 2.5 sq m plot for a year. All the units have been snapped up and there is a waiting list.

Meanwhile, D’Kranji Farm Resort, which offers farm staycations, leases out part of its land to hobbyist gardeners and commercial operators who supply greens to supermarkets.

 
 
 

Twenty-one of its 22 plots have been taken up under one- to 10-year leases. Each plot ranges from 700 sq m to 10,000 sq m, with a fee of between $500 and $10,000 a month.

Business development manager Nicholas Lai, 27, says the amateur farmers tend to be health-conscious people.

“They want to know where their food comes from and that it is 100 per cent chemical- free,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Pocket Greens, an urban farm in Bukit Panjang, has been renting out racks for people to grow microgreens under its rental rack adoption programme since 2014. Microgreens are tiny young greens such as broccoli and kale which are harvested when they are still juvenile plants.

Growing microgreens on a rack is like having an efficient multistorey farm. Each rack comes with four levels and each level can hold five trays. About 75 per cent of its 70 racks have been taken up.

Pocket Greens co-founder Eng Ting Ting, who is in her late 40s, says that while some of her tenants are hobbyist gardeners, most are parents who want their children to learn to grow edibles and not to take their food for granted. They also take their kids there to grow vegetables as a family activity.

Some community gardens also rent out some plots for a fee.

One of them is Eng Kong Cheng Soon community garden near Toh Tuck Road. At 2,500 sq m, it is the largest of its kind in a private estate.

All 90 plots there, each about 3m by 2m, have been taken up. Gardeners, mostly residents living in the private estates, condominiums and Housing Board blocks nearby, pay about $50 a year for each plot.

The Straits Times speaks to gardeners from Pocket Greens, D’Kranji Farm Resort and Eng Kong Cheng Soon community garden to find out what prompts them to rent a plot.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2017, with the headline 'Rent a space, grow your greens'. Print Edition | Subscribe