Kampung spirit blooms in new garden

Community members tending their plots at the Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Community Garden yesterday. Applicants ballot for the 90 plots available. All have been taken up.
Community members tending their plots at the Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Community Garden yesterday. Applicants ballot for the 90 plots available. All have been taken up.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Community garden the largest of its kind in a private estate in S'pore

Nestled in a tree-lined clearing in Bukit Batok is a new community garden, the largest of its kind in a private estate in Singapore.

For residents there, it is the latest place to meet up, share ideas and experience the kampung spirit.

The 50m by 44m garden near Toh Tuck Road was started by the Eng Kong and Cheng Soon Neighbourhood Committee at a cost of $22,500 and paid for by contributions from residents.

The garden was officially opened yesterday by Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry. It is the latest addition to nearly 1,000 community gardens in Singapore.

Ms Sim, who is an MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said: "The intention is to make use of a temporarily unused piece of land on which the residents can practise their love for community farming and enjoy a little bit of recreational activity."

HAVING FUN WITH GARDENING

The intention is to make use of a temporarily unused piece of land on which the residents can practise their love for community farming and enjoy a little bit of recreational activity.

MS SIM ANN, Senior Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry.

The neighbourhood committee's chairman Mark Yuen, 61, said: "We have siblings and friends of residents pitching in and sharing their knowledge. We make new friends almost every day."

The first plant - a Moringa tree, valued in India for its medicinal properties - was planted on Nov 1.

Ms Jessi Wong, 55, whose extended family has lived in the Toh Tuck area for decades, did the honours. The economics lecturer said: "In the plot, you must make decisions such as labour, capital, what to grow, how to grow and for whom. Nature must come first, then you can make business."

Applicants ballot for the 90 plots available, for $50 a year. All have been taken up.

The garden has also given opportunities to green-finger novices.

Housewife Christy Wang, 39, is new to gardening but that has not stopped her from planting a variety - kai lan, ginger, potato, chilli and carrot - in her plot.

"It was very tough. The soil was hard and lumpy. We spent five days turning the soil to loosen it and mix in the fertiliser. But it was fun."

Helping Madam Wang was her daughter Alysa Hee, a Primary 5 pupil at Bukit Timah Primary School. "It was quite difficult because there were lots of rocks, leaves and even (bits of) floor tiles in the soil... But it's good because I perspire and feel refreshed after the exercise," said the 11-year-old.

Her school has adopted three of the plots.

Principal Teresa Len, 46, and her staff are tending the plots and plan to kick off gardening activities for pupils in January. "It is part of the school's drive to promote awareness of environmental issues."

The Malay Activity Executive Committee from Bukit Timah Community Club, meanwhile, is growing a herb and spice plot which includes lemon grass and pennywort.

Mr Yuen said the garden will be beautified with sculptures and trellises, and looks forward to participating in the biennial Community in Bloom Awards held by the National Parks Board for community gardens. "We can even do afternoon teas or wedding pictures here."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 13, 2016, with the headline 'Kampung spirit blooms in new garden'. Print Edition | Subscribe