Forum: Produce frequently stolen from community gardens

It is heartening to read that the National Parks Board (NParks) is aiming to more than double its number of community plots for gardening by 2030, in line with its initiative to encourage the cultivation of edibles (More community plots sprouting up to cater to gardening enthusiasts, June 19).

NParks' community plots are popular and often oversubscribed. These urban gardeners invest time, sweat and effort. They secure gardening paraphernalia such as good soil, compost, fertiliser, planting structure, netting and watering system. These plots are often situated in public parks, unfenced and open to all park users.

Fellow gardeners become friends, helping one another with watering tasks, planting tips, gifting of seeds and harvesting. Often, gardeners readily give away some of their harvest if requested, even to park visitors.

However, theft of produce is, sadly, rampant. Just recently, I had my whole plot of chye sim stolen. I found the plants completely uprooted two days before I planned to harvest them.

Rampant theft of produce is a major problem faced by many of my fellow gardeners, and I am certain it is not unique to the Punggol Park garden where my plot is located.

Although we try to look out for one another, none of us is able to be present every hour of the day. Initially, some of the gardeners reported the thefts to the police.

We also made requests to NParks to fence up the area and /or install closed-circuit television cameras, which were turned down. Many of us have resorted to putting up netting barriers at our plots to deter thieves, but these are a really weak deterrent.

The thefts continue, and I believe there are many gardeners who feel discouraged and are on the verge of giving up.

The community gardening scheme is a laudable initiative, and I hope NParks will enhance it further by helping gardeners safeguard their produce.

Julia Ng Gek Huang