Tiong Bahru community garden's produce all go to estate residents in first of its kind

Kim Tian West residents tending to the plants at The Giving Garden@Kim Tian West on Nov 7, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
Ms Indranee Rajah harvesting brinjals in the community garden on Nov 7, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - In a first of its kind, all of the produce from a community garden in Tiong Bahru will be distributed to residents in the estate.

The Giving Garden @ Kim Tian West was launched at the rooftop of the multi-storey carpark at Block 119A Kim Tian Road on Sunday (Nov 7), with more than 10 types of vegetables ready for harvesting, including brinjal, kai lan and kangkung.

It is different from other community gardens because only volunteers, under the guidance of the Tanjong Pagar Town Council, man the plots and all of the produce is distributed to estate residents.

More than 40 volunteers who live in the estate helped to man the 1,020 sq m garden since planting began last month. Their efforts came to fruition - some 230 bags of fresh produce were handed out to residents at Block 119B Kim Tian Road and the NTUC Health Senior Activity Centre on Sunday.

It takes about three to four weeks for crops to be ready for harvest. A resident was hired by the town council to take care of the garden full-time.

While other community gardens are mostly independently run, The Giving Garden is a collaboration by the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru Citizens' Consultative Committee, Kim Tian West Residents' Committee, the National Parks Board and the Tanjong Pagar Town Council.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah, who is also adviser to Tanjong Pagar GRC Grassroots Organisations, said she came up with the idea for the community garden to promote community bonding.

"The idea is really just to grow, harvest and give. It will promote the idea of sustainability but, more importantly, you have a community that works together on something," she said.

Noting that Covid-19 could bring about food security issues, Ms Indranee added: "Community gardens like this play a very important complementary role (to commercial farming)... If there are ever food shortages, at least residents have this as a fallback that will tide them through for a little while."

Ms Rosemary Tan, 47, a grassroots member who led the initiative, said she was excited to kick-start The Giving Garden as it produces edibles on a bigger scale than other community gardens.

"It feels good to grow something with our own hands and then to bless our neighbours with each harvest. I hope that when other residents see how we are trying to sustainably feed our community, more residents will step forward," she said.

Ms Indranee Rajah planting kai lan seedlings in The Giving Garden@Kim Tian West community garden on Nov 7, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Mrs Sharada Chellam, 97, and her daughter-in-law, Mrs Uma Chellam, 57, were among those who volunteered to help harvest the vegetables on Sunday.

While harvesting lettuce, the older Mrs Chellam said: "I like helping - watering, trimming - the plants. It helps me pass time, and I also get to meet many new people. Harvesting is difficult, but I want to learn."

Fishmonger Iris Lee, 58, received a bag of chye sim from Ms Indranee, who helped to harvest and distribute some of the produce to residents.

Ms Indranee Rajah giving a bag of chye sim harvested from the community garden to Ms Iris Lee on Nov 7, 2021. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

"This is a good initiative, the vegetables look nice and fresh," she said.

Residents must sign up to be a volunteer at the garden, which is open every day from 7.30am to 9pm.

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