More HDB blocks in Tampines could get community gardens, farms to step up food production capability

Tampines resident Serena Lim working on a hydroponic garden on the rooftop of Our Tampines Hub on April 30, 2022. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - More Housing Board blocks in Tampines could have community gardens and vertical farms as the town works towards scaling up its farming and food production capability.

An ecosystem to help these farms distribute the harvests commercially and at a lower cost to residents may also be explored, said Minister for Social and Family Development Masagos Zulkifli at the launch of Tampines Goes Farming initiative at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday (April 30).

"(These farms) will take up spaces that are not in use at this point so the real estate is cheaper. At the same time, the need for distribution is also eliminated as they are right where they need to be (distributed)," said Mr Masagos.

"So this concept of farm to fork will be something that we can really practise in Tampines," he added.

The Tampines Goes Farming initiative is part of Tampines' five-year masterplan to transform the town into an eco-town with green and sustainable amenities and programmes by 2025.

It is also a push alongside the nation's 30 by 30 goal to sustainably produce 30 per cent of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.

The launch was also attended by Tampines MPs Koh Poh Koon, Desmond Choo and Baey Yam Keng.

Mr Masagos said that while urban farming on a local scale may not address the global food crisis due to the Russian-Ukraine conflict, it may ease some pain points.

"The food chain (disruption) today because of the crisis is a huge problem and it's very difficult to try to address it with a local solution. But at the very least, we can mitigate some of the pains that are imposed by the crisis," he added.

There is also a need to scale up food production in a sustainable way, said Mr Masagos.

"We do have the technology to make sure that one, we don't use a lot of energy in the process; two, we don't generate waste that needs to be disposed of but can be recycled into the system and three; we use the most efficient amount of water to grow our food," he said.

In Tampines, there are around 35 community gardens managed by the town council and run by residents, with more in the pipeline.

Farming initiatives in the town include a pilot hydroponics programme, rooftop gardens and vertical gardens.

Tampines resident Serena Lim, 53, who joined the pilot hydroponics programme in July last year, said she used to grow ornamental flowers but decided to hop on to the bandwagon of growing edible plants.

She now harvests around five days' worth of veggies, such as kale and bak choy, from her hydroponic set-up on her balcony every four to six weeks, for her dinners.

"To see the seeds grow into seedlings and into actual vegetables is a great feeling. The vegetables I grow also taste more tender and less bitter than the ones I buy from the supermarket," said Ms Lim.

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