Sembawang gardeners offer harvest to needy

These residents in area will get fresh veggies from community gardens over the next year

Community volunteers harvesting vegetables for distribution to needy residents in Sembawang West and Admiralty yesterday, in the first giveaway under the Sembawang GRC Gardens Give Back Project that saw 270 receive about 200kg of vegetables.
Community volunteers harvesting vegetables for distribution to needy residents in Sembawang West and Admiralty yesterday, in the first giveaway under the Sembawang GRC Gardens Give Back Project that saw 270 receive about 200kg of vegetables.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Needy Sembawang residents now have the chance to try out fresh organic vegetables, courtesy of their neighbours.

Some 250 residents working across 23 community gardens have banded together to plan how to distribute their harvest over the next year. The vegetables, including the ever popular kai lan and nai bai, will supplement the regular food donations given to needy residents.

About 200kg of vegetables were donated to 270 residents in Sembawang West and Admiralty yesterday, in the first giveaway under the Sembawang GRC Gardens Give Back Project. The residents also received necessities such as oil, salt and clothes.

Community gardener Jason Yeo, 57, who is on the committee behind the project, said that the gardeners usually share their harvests with residents living near the gardens.

Mr Yeo, who is also the chairman of the Sembawang West Zone E Resident Network, said: "Only residents staying around the area would benefit, so we thought about giving it out to those with lower income or the elderly, and on a monthly basis.

"It's not much because we have limited space to plant the vegetables, but we will try to give as many as we can."

Each crop of vegetables can take up to two months to grow.

On why the gardeners want to donate the fruits of their labour, Mr Yeo said: "It is not correct to eat the vegetables ourselves because this is a community garden.

"We are very happy to share our harvest with many other people."

Under the project, the community gardeners in Sembawang GRC have agreed to pool together their entire harvest during assigned months and donate it to needy households.

Gardens in each division will participate in at least two major distributions before the end of year.

Mr Yeo said the gardeners will look into continuing the project in the long run.

Sembawang GRC MPs Vikram Nair and Poh Li San joined some residents in harvesting the vegetables yesterday, before distributing them to residents.

Mr Nair said: "One of the things we are trying to do is to make sure that residents who have lower income also have a healthier lifestyle. Quite often, they don't eat enough vegetables, so by giving them vegetables, (we can) hopefully gently encourage them to eat more."

Ms Poh said the project will help residents to bond, while giving back to the community.

Mr Oh Kee Swee, 65, who has been looking after the community garden opposite Admiralty MRT station since 2003, said he was glad to do his part to help the needy.

"Sometimes people will offer to buy the vegetables, but I will reject them. I will give the vegetables to needy people who live in the estate instead. That's part of the kampung spirit here."

Retired factory operator Mani, 65, who goes by one name, said she was happy to receive kai lan and chye sim farmed by the community gardeners.

She added: "I have not tried cooking chye sim before, but I will fry it with garlic and chilli later."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 01, 2021, with the headline 'Sembawang gardeners offer harvest to needy'. Subscribe