From Garden to Market
There are now hundreds of community gardens in the heartlands of Singapore. As residents’ interest in this hobby grows, so does the motivation to increase the yields of their community gardens.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) of Singapore has been helping to “professionalise” these community gardens by providing our horticultural expertise. With the assistance of the People’s Association, Residents’ Committees, and Town Councils, as well as support from the National Parks’ Board, AVA conducted weekly lessons on vegetable growing at five model gardens in Woodlands.
During these classes, AVA officers coached community gardeners on all the basics of growing a good crop of vegetables, such as how to sow seeds, what fertilisers to use, and how much water is needed. We advised on many aspects of planting vegetables, such as garden design and maintenance, as well as pest management. Volunteers from other community gardens were also invited to attend these lessons.
Such efforts have borne fruit. Every four to six weeks, the gardens yield enough harvests that can be shared with needy families. On 6 April 2014, Minister for National Development, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, joined residents at a community farmers’ market set up at the Republic Polytechnic, where 250kg of their harvests were sold. Proceeds were donated to the Man Fut Tong Nursing Home.
Children were not left out in this community gardening initiative. In February 2014, AVA began partnering the People’s Action Party Community Foundation (PCF) in a “Kinder- Garden” Pilot Project to engage children aged five to six. In a blog post, Mr Khaw said: “With the help from AVA officers, our enthusiastic pre-schoolers learn how to sow seeds in plastic cups, watch them grow into seedlings, before putting them out for outdoor planting. This has allowed our teachers to conduct outdoor lessons on seedling transplant, fertilising, weeding and harvesting.”
The lessons were specifically designed for kindergarten children to educate them through play and expose them to growing vegetables. The initiative has been well received and AVA is looking into expanding the programme to other PCF kindergartens.