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

Raffaella Nathan Charles Straits Times 3 Nov 17;

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

These 2.5 sq m plots can be rented at a price of $57 a year, for up to three years. Users can use the space to grow any plants of their choice, from blooms to vegetables.

A total of 1,000 of these "allotment gardens" will be built in 10 parks by 2019, said NParks.

This move is part of a broader Edible Horticulture Plan launched on Friday (Nov 3) that also spells out training initiatives and ways to support gardening 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 thumbs.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social And Family Development, who made the announcement on Friday, noted that gardens have sprung up not only in residential estates, but also in schools, and even indoors.

Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development, also said that about 80 per cent of community gardeners under NParks' Community In Bloom (CIB) programme grow edibles in their shared plots.

He was speaking at the Community Garden Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, 9am to 7pm, at HortPark off Alexandra Road.

In a pilot allotment garden scheme that started in 2016, 80 allotment plots that were made available in Hort Park were quickly snapped up by those interested in growing their own crops.

By year-end, new allotment gardens will be available for rent at Punggol, Clementi and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Parks.

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, owns a plot in in HortPark. Her own 2.5 sq m space is right next to her niece's.

She said of the plots: "There's a sense of ownership. It's a bit hard in the shared community gardens, because how do you determine what you own?"

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

As part of the Edible Horticulture Plan, NParks aims enhance training schemes from the current basic training needed to be a CIB gardener.

The new three-tiered training scheme sees a basic level, an advanced level for decorative plants, edibles and pollinator-attracting plants, as well as a final level to become a CIB ambassador who will groom a new generation of gardeners.

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

"I'm impressed with the gardens," said housewife 47-year-old Rosna Hamde, who turned up with her nine-year-old son Rafael Afiq. "This is my second time at the festival since the first one in 2015. I came for the tours, talks, and maybe I'll go for the cooking demonstrations too."

More communal gardens in the heartlands as part of new national master plan
Dawn Ang Siew Lin Channel NewsAsia 3 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: More public gardening plots will be installed in parks across Singapore as part of the new national gardening master plan announced on Friday (Nov 3).

A total of 160 gardening plots will be launched at HortPark, and another 200 across 10 other parks such as Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, Clementi Woods Park and Punggol Park by the end of this year, the National Parks Board (NParks) said.

Plots will be rented to interested parties at S$57 yearly, for up to three years.

"We plan to eventually have more than 1,000 allotment gardening plots for (all) to use," said Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, who was speaking at NParks' biannual Community Garden Festival.

The Edible Horticulture Masterplan has four focus areas in total, said Mr Lee.

Under the plan, courses will be held for community garden enthusiasts and landscaping professionals. On Friday, NParks also unveiled a new training centre at HortPark - a refurbished colonial-style house named HortHouse, which will host arboriculture, botany and horticulture courses. Classes will begin in January next year.

Fast-growing edible plants that also bear fruit quickly will be promoted along with new gardening technologies. Education and outreach efforts to encourage community gardening activities among members of public, families and neighbours will also be ramped up.

The aim is to get more Singaporeans involved in the community gardening movement, said Mr Lee, who is also Minister for Social and Family Development.

NParks also announced on Friday that starting January, it will take over the management and development of the orchid sector from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, bringing the entire landscape industry under its scope.

NParks will engage with landscape industry partners in the coming months to keep them abreast of developments such as on land tender and account manager changes, said Mr Chong Whye Keet, director at NParks' Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology.

Orchid industry partners can expect more details to be released early next year.

Gardening fans snap up 330 allotment plots
Raffaella Nathan Charles Straits Times 8 Nov 17;

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.