Keen gardeners can now rent spaces at parks to grow their own crops

Community farmers at their allotment garden plots at HortPark on Nov 3, 2017.
Community farmers at their allotment garden plots at HortPark on Nov 3, 2017. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
 Visitors at the first day of the Community Gardens Festival at HortPark on Nov 3, 2017.
Visitors at the first day of the Community Gardens Festival at HortPark on Nov 3, 2017.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - Amid the backdrop of an increasingly eco-conscious Singapore, the National Parks Board (NParks) will for the first time be leasing out garden spaces in their parks for anyone to grow their own plants.

These 2.5 sq m plots can be rented at a price of $57 a year, for up to three years. Users can use the space to grow any plants of their choice, from blooms to vegetables.

A total of 1,000 of these "allotment gardens" will be built in 10 parks by 2019, said NParks.

This move is part of a broader Edible Horticulture Plan launched on Friday (Nov 3) that also spells out training initiatives and ways to support gardening in Singapore.

In recent years, more community gardens have sprouted islandwide, reflecting a keen interest in gardening beyond the professional sphere. Gardening enthusiasts also say that they have observed more aspiring green thumbs.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social And Family Development, who made the announcement on Friday, noted that gardens have sprung up not only in residential estates, but also in schools, and even indoors.

Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development, also said that about 80 per cent of community gardeners under NParks' Community In Bloom (CIB) programme grow edibles in their shared plots.

He was speaking at the Community Garden Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, 9am to 7pm, at HortPark off Alexandra Road.

In a pilot allotment garden scheme that started in 2016, 80 allotment plots that were made available in Hort Park were quickly snapped up by those interested in growing their own crops.

By year-end, new allotment gardens will be available for rent at Punggol, Clementi and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Parks.

NParks provides the basics: a raised garden plot at waist-level, soil and water. The gardeners simply have to bring their own seeds and tools.

Mrs Emily Fong, a retiree in her 60s, owns a plot in in HortPark. Her own 2.5 sq m space is right next to her niece's.

She said of the plots: "There's a sense of ownership. It's a bit hard in the shared community gardens, because how do you determine what you own?"

NParks said there are now over 1,300 community garden groups.

As part of the Edible Horticulture Plan, NParks aims enhance training schemes from the current basic training needed to be a CIB gardener.

The new three-tiered training scheme sees a basic level, an advanced level for decorative plants, edibles and pollinator-attracting plants, as well as a final level to become a CIB ambassador who will groom a new generation of gardeners.

 

Hundreds of people turned up to the festival itself, attending talks, tours, buying plants at their retail marketplace, and more.

"I'm impressed with the gardens," said housewife 47-year-old Rosna Hamde, who turned up with her nine-year-old son Rafael Afiq. "This is my second time at the festival since the first one in 2015. I came for the tours, talks, and maybe I'll go for the cooking demonstrations too."