Non-profit Ground-Up Initiative and turtle museum to move to new site in Khatib

An artist's impression of Ground-Up Initiative's new space in Khatib, located behind HomeTeamNS Khatib. PHOTO: GROUND-UP INITIATIVE

SINGAPORE – A non-profit initiative known for its focus on sustainability and community building has secured new premises following news that it has to give up the state land it occupies in June.

Ground-Up Initiative (GUI) – currently located in Lorong Chencharu – will move to a nearby site, adjacent to HomeTeamNS Khatib in Yishun Walk.

It will be joined by The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum, a tenant of the popular Orto leisure park, which also has to vacate its site in June to make way for future developments.

Both the museum and the non-profit will share the site, which is around 1.2ha – equivalent in size to about 1½ football fields – with the museum to take up approximately a tenth of the area, GUI executive lead Cai Bingyu told The Straits Times on Thursday.

ST reported in August 2022 that GUI and Orto, which are currently located a stone’s throw from each other, had been told by the authorities that they would need to relocate when their tenancies expire in June 2023.

Mr Cai said GUI has agreed to a lease of three years with the Singapore Land Authority for its new site, with the option of two three-year extensions.

GUI, known best for its farm in Lorong Chencharu, said on Thursday that it is hoping to raise about $4.5 million to fund the construction cost of its new space.

The money raised will also go towards other miscellaneous costs such as professional fees, site inspections and the demolition of its current site, said GUI.

Mr Cai said GUI will continue its farming, crafts and cooking programmes at its new premises, and that it would ensure there are spaces for community events, such as an amphitheatre, as well as landscaped areas.

Construction for the new site will begin in March, and Mr Cai hopes the public will be able to visit by October.

The non-profit is currently working with the authorities to ensure that it vacates its current grounds by end-2023.

Meanwhile, The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum’s owner, Ms Connie Tan, said the museum will continue to operate at Orto until further notice, and added that the museum is working on designs for its new space.

The opening date of the new museum will be announced when ready, she said, adding that it is likely to be later than GUI’s opening, as more time is needed to allow the animals to get used to their new environment.

The Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum will continue to operate at Orto, said owner Connie Tan. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Mr Cai said that as much as possible, materials from GUI’s old site in Lorong Chencharu will be moved over to the new site. These include aluminium roofing sheets and appliances such as lights and fans.

Topsoil from GUI’s farm, which he said is especially fertile, will also be taken to the new space to kick-start a farm there.

Mr Cai said that while the new site is less than half the size of its 2.6ha area in Lorong Chencharu, it is suited to the non-profit’s needs.

GUI had previously worked with other agriculture partners, such as those in aquaculture, to ensure its current site is fully utilised.

Mr Cai also said he is glad that GUI managed to secure a site within Yishun.

“We have always wanted to be near to a neighbourhood, for if not, we will become a weekend club,” he said.

He added that GUI’s volunteers who live in Yishun are mainly retirees who visit on weekdays, and that the organisation has forged strong bonds with the community in the town over the years.

Ground-Up Initiative, known best for its farm in Lorong Chencharu, said on Thursday that it is hoping to raise about $4.5 million to fund the construction cost of its new space. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Orto spokesman Clifford Loh told ST on Thursday that its management does not intend to apply for any more lease extensions, and the leisure park will close by end-June.

The 5.15ha leisure park is located within a plot of about 70ha, bounded by Khatib Camp, Sembawang Road, Yishun Avenue 1 and Yishun Avenue 2 that is zoned for residential use, subject to detailed planning.

Chencharu was identified as a new housing area in the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s long-term land use plans shared in June.

Mr Loh said Orto’s management took over 27 West Coast Highway, a two-storey commercial building near Haw Par Villa MRT station, in end-2022, and that the facility, which will also be branded Orto, will open to the public from April 2023.

Its tenant mix will be announced at a later date.

Donations to GUI can be made at

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