Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, worries about food security, among other issues, have led some households to grow their own vegetables at home.
Meanwhile, the National Parks Board launched the Gardening with Edibles initiative in June (Seeding a nation of gardeners, June 20), giving out 400,000 free seed packets to interested households. Coupled with Zoom masterclasses and instructional videos, this initiative has been a success in the community.
Studies have found that home gardens provide various ecosystem services such as enhanced pollination. Gardening has also been shown to provide therapeutic and mood-boosting effects to the benefit of mental health.
But to fully reap these benefits, we need to accelerate initiatives that incentivise families to start their own home gardens.
Apart from just providing seeds, the authorities should encourage more intra-community collaboration so that this interest can be converted into a full hobby for more people.
For example, pasar malams can be set up for residents from the neighbourhood to come together to sell their produce. Financial incentives aside, this would provide a platform for home gardeners to talk to others who have also taken up the hobby, creating a community.
Schools can also teach students gardening skills and partner homes for seniors so that students and the elderly can interact over this activity.
Through increased community interaction, the gardening initiative can be expanded to reach more people.