Sunday, 5 November 2017

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

NParks to offer garden plots for rent as interest grows
It will allow users to grow plants of their choice, with aim of building 1,000 such gardens in 10 parks by 2019
By Raffaella Nathan Charles, The Straits Times, 4 Nov 2017

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

These 2.5 sq m plots each cost $57 a year, for up to three years. Users can grow any plants of their choice, from blooms to vegetables.

NParks aims to build 1,000 of these "allotment gardens" in 10 parks by 2019.

This move is part of a broader Edible Horticulture Plan launched yesterday that trains and supports gardeners 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 fingers.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development, noted that gardens have sprung up not only in residential estates, but also in schools, and even indoors.

And residents love the idea of growing their own food, as about 80 per cent of community gardeners under NParks' Community In Bloom (CIB) programme raise edibles in their shared plots, said Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development.

Mr Lee was speaking yesterday at the launch of the second Community Garden Festival, which runs until tomorrow at HortPark, off Alexandra Road.

In a pilot allotment scheme last year, 80 allotment plots that were made available in HortPark were quickly snapped up.

By the year end, new allotment gardens will be available for rent at Punggol, Clementi Woods and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio parks. Applications can be made during the festival at the Allotment Garden Booth in HortPark.

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, enjoys having her own 2.5 sq m space in HortPark, right next to her niece's.

She said: "There's a sense of ownership. It's a bit hard in the shared community gardens to determine what you own."

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

As part of the Edible Horticulture Plan, it aims to enhance training schemes.

The new three-tiered scheme has a basic training level, an advanced level for ornamental plants, edibles and pollinator-attracting plants, and a final CIB ambassador level to groom a new generation of expert gardeners who can train others.

These new initiatives bank on the widespread interest in gardening, and create a community effort to achieve the City in a Garden vision, NParks said.

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

"I'm impressed with the gardens (on display)," said 47-year-old housewife Rosna Hamde, who turned up with her nine-year-old son Rafael Afiq. "I came for the tours and talks, and maybe I'll go for the cooking demonstrations too."

Gardening fans snap up 330 allotment plots
By Raffaella Nathan Charles, The Straits Times, 8 Nov 2017

The plot to get Singaporeans gardening and harvesting is off to a flying start.

Two days after the National Parks Board (NParks) announced it was making available 330 allotment garden plots, all have been snapped up.

Gardening enthusiasts formed long snaking queues around the Allotment Garden Booth at the second Community Garden Festival in HortPark last weekend. By the end of Sunday, all 110 plots in Punggol Park, 60 in Clementi Woods Park, and 160 in HortPark were taken up.

The 2.5 sq m plots allow gardeners of any skill level to grow their own plants, with soil and water provided by NParks. Individuals simply need to provide their own seeds and tools.

One household is entitled to one plot, costing $57 a year. Leases are for three years.

Housewife Kelly Orozco is eagerly waiting for the upcoming opening of allotment garden plots in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

NParks plans to open 70 plots there by the middle of next month, which the public can sign up for on its website or at the park's site office.

The 53-year-old housewife, who lives in Toa Payoh, has her own garden at the back of her first-floor HDB flat. But her plants, especially the edibles, sometimes get stolen by neighbours or eaten by pests.

"I want to have the freedom to plant what I want, without it getting stolen," she said.

The allotment gardens are considered "a novelty" to her in land-scarce Singapore. "Gardening helps me destress, so the individual lots will be very useful to me," she said.

The allotment gardening scheme aims to increase spaces provided to garden and promote edible gardening, in line with NParks' Edible Horticulture Masterplan.

The plan taps the hot trend of planting edibles: 80 per cent of over 1,300 NParks' public estate community gardens grow their own fruits and vegetables.

The public can expect more than 1,000 allotment garden plots in 11 parks across the island by 2019.

New National Masterplan to Encourage More to Garden

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