Beyond building homes, we are building communities. This will of course always be a work in progress. We have done a lot, but we can still do very much more.
One successful strategy in fostering community bonding is NParks’ Community In Bloom (CIB) programme, which brings local communities together to grow their own vegetables, herbs & fruit trees in assigned patches. I have several such CIB projects in my Sembawang Constituency and they have been very effective in growing the kampong spirit there, besides yielding harvests for dinner tables.
We extended the CIB to the roof top of the new hospital in Yishun – the Khoo Teck Puat Hospital – and roped in CIB volunteers from the neighbouring Yishun and Sembawang Towns. The extension was a great success, benefitting the patients there. At the same time, CIB also took root in private estates.
The same kampong spirit that thrives in HDB heartlands can flourish in private residential estates. Recently, I visited one CIB garden at Goldhill, which is in my former Moulmein Constituency.
I was happy to reconnect with my former residents. With much pride, they told me of their garden’s achievements that won three top awards at the Singapore Garden Festival 2010.
Since last year, AVA has been working with NParks to enhance the expertise of the CIB participants to make them skilled urban farmers.
Not all of them are farmers or have green fingers. AVA colleagues have been sharing with the gardeners how to do seeding, fertilising, irrigation, harvesting and more.
The enthusiastic group of volunteers from all walks of life come together to build their vegetable garden from scratch. But it’s not like Jack and the Beanstalk; toss some magic beans and a giant beanstalk shoots up. This is where AVA can jump in and provide useful guidance to help the garden flourish.
Along the way, learning as a group, working together and striving for a common goal, brings the gardeners closer together. It is a fantastic way for the community to bond, learn a new hobby and skill, make new friends and enjoy the fruits of their labour.
The Goldhill efforts have also benefited the butterflies and the birds. They told me that hornbills now visit their gardens daily. They have photos to show. Butterflies and dragon flies have become permanent residents there.
We are highly urbanised, but we can also be a kampong and urban farmers, growing our own vegetables. Along the way, we add to the neighbourhood’s biodiversity and our quality of life.
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