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Place of discovery and fun for budding community gardeners

In a corner of Sunset Way Housing Board estate lies a children's community garden where youngsters get to grow their own vegetables. Sixteen children, ranging from four to 12 years old, have plots in the 50 sg m garden where they work and play.
The garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13. (From far left) Chen Xinping, five; Anna Manipur, 10; Meera Sathappan, 11; Estella Bang, 10; and Shen Xi Ran, 11, at the Sunset Way Kids' Garden. They are part of a group of 16 chi
(From far left) Chen Xinping, five; Anna Manipur, 10; Meera Sathappan, 11; Estella Bang, 10; and Shen Xi Ran, 11, at the Sunset Way Kids' Garden. They are part of a group of 16 children who have taken up gardening after the Sunset Way Community Garden was revamped last year to include a dedicated space for children. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
The garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13. (From far left) Chen Xinping, five; Anna Manipur, 10; Meera Sathappan, 11; Estella Bang, 10; and Shen Xi Ran, 11, at the Sunset Way Kids' Garden. They are part of a group of 16 chi
Volunteers (from left) Christine Manipur, 40, and Yvonne Tong, 42, teaching the children how to make eco-friendly pesticide. Garlic, onions and capsicums are chopped up and put in a bowl of water; the mixture is then strained and the resulting solution poured into spray bottles.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
The garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13. (From far left) Chen Xinping, five; Anna Manipur, 10; Meera Sathappan, 11; Estella Bang, 10; and Shen Xi Ran, 11, at the Sunset Way Kids' Garden. They are part of a group of 16 chi
Anna checking on her chilli plants. She germinated the seeds at home before planting them in the garden. She likes to make pickled green chillies.ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
The garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13. (From far left) Chen Xinping, five; Anna Manipur, 10; Meera Sathappan, 11; Estella Bang, 10; and Shen Xi Ran, 11, at the Sunset Way Kids' Garden. They are part of a group of 16 chi
The garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13. ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

It is Sunday morning and 10-year-old Anna Manipur is checking on her chilli plant in the community garden in the Clementi estate.

She gingerly lifts the leaves and is delighted when she sees a few tiny fruits. This means that she can make her favourite spicy condiment - pickled green chillies.

"I also want to make sambal and soya chilli but I can't because my chillies are not red yet," she says.

Anna is one of 16 youngsters who have taken up gardening after the Sunset Way Community Garden was revamped last year to include a dedicated space for children.

The 546 sq m garden sits between Maju forest and Block 118 Clementi Street 13, with 50 sq m allotted to the children.

"The garden was set up as an educational hub where our kid gardeners are given the opportunity to discover, experiment, learn and socialise," says Ms Marylene Oen Gomes, executive member of the Sunset Way Residents' Committee.

With their parents' help, the children started small with kangkung, spinach and chye sim. Six weeks later, they harvested the vegetables and took them home for cooking.

That taste of success prompted them to extend their green thumbs and plant long beans, lady's fingers and other vegetables.

The garden is organic, so the children also learn to make eco-friendly pesticide to keep it free of chemicals while still eradicating pests.

 

These shared activities have brought the children closer. Shen Xi Ran, 11, says: "It used to be that we went there (the garden) to work and play a bit, but now we're going there to play and work a bit!"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2019, with the headline 'Place of discovery and fun for budding community gardeners'. Print Edition | Subscribe