Speech by Professor Leo Tan, Chairman, National Parks Board at the Announcement of Community in Bloom Awards 2006
15 Apr 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Boys and Girls;
Good morning to you. I am happy to see so many of you here today.
From Garden City to "City in a Garden"
It is appropriate that we should be gathering here in the heart of the city, and in one of our model buildings renowned for its energy friendliness and skyrise greenery. Singapore has come a long way from a small fishing village to the vibrant Garden City we live, work and play in. Our tree-lined roads, our cityscape interspersed with lush greenery, parks and gardens leave a lasting impression on our visitors.In fact, I am very encouraged by the many positive remarks from all my overseas guests on our Garden City ambience.
This reputation did not come about overnight.It is backed by decades of investment in our green infrastructure, and complemented by our commitment to enhance the lush environment we enjoy. As you may already know, our long-term vision is to develop Singapore into a "City In A Garden". To ensure that these efforts are sustainable, every one of us has a role to play. We need the community to be actively involved.We need a nation of gardeners who are passionate about, and take pride in, our greenery.
"Community In Bloom" Programme & Partners
In this regard, the NParks launched the Community In Bloom programme last year - to nurture a gardening culture and to introduce gardening as a healthy hobby for everyone.We are fortunate to have many able partners and friends to work with.They include gardening clubs and societies, other NGOs, private organisations, public agencies and the network of CDCs, Town Councils, resident and neighbourhood committees.I see many of you here today, such as the Singapore Gardening Society and Singapore Green Culture, participating in the floral display or sharing your experience at the workshop.I commend you for initiating greening projects and for your unwavering efforts in bringing the benefits of gardening to your community.
There is an old Chinese proverb which says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.We have a thousand miles to go but we have taken the first significant step with the Community In Bloom programme.I am heartened to know that the response to this programme has been infectious with many positive results.Since its launch in May 2005, we have seen a rise in the number of community groups participating in, and initiating, community gardening activities.They include public and private housing estates, schools and organisations.We now have a network of self-sustaining community gardens throughout our island, and we have nurtured a diverse group of keen gardeners from all walks of life.
Gardening is more than a fun activity that relieves stress.It is a healthy and therapeutic hobby that offers regular gardeners physical exercise and mental relaxation.My colleagues at NParks tell me that neighbours and new-found friends share the produce from their vegetable and herb plots. Community gardens are now hubs where you mingle with your neighbours and they also act as pleasant outdoor classrooms for the schools.I also understand that the networking opportunities that the Community In Bloom programme provides through its monthly meet-up sessions has led to the sharing of numerous gardening ideas, development of new friendships and strengthening of partnerships.Indeed, there are so many benefits to gardening that it is hard to pinpoint just one!
Partnership with NLB
To ease new gardeners into this hobby, NParks in collaboration with NLB has produced a handy guide to gardening books you can find in the libraries and also useful gardening websites to check out.This afternoon, you can learn how to create your own fragrant garden at the workshop held at the Central Lending Library.In the later part of this year, we will jointly organise activities where library users can apply their gardening skills to beautify a common area.All these were made possible with NLB's support and I would like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to NLB for bringing Community In Bloom to the libraries.
Community In Bloom Awards 2006 - new Best Home Gardens category
The first Community In Bloom Awards was launched by NParks last year.This was to spur gardeners on in their greening efforts, and to recognise the most creative and innovative community gardens through the challenge of a friendly competition.In all, a total of 107 entries were submitted.We are very encouraged by the response for the inaugural awards, as well as by the enthusiasm of the community of gardeners we met.From the enthusiastic response and by popular demand, I am pleased to announce the awards for this year, the Community In Bloom Awards 2006.
Like last year, these awards will be open to existing as well as new community gardens in four categories.They are private residential estates, public residential estates, schools, and other institutions.These gardens must be cultivated and maintained by residents, students, staff or volunteers and so on of the individual estate, school or institution.The awards will recognise the collective efforts of the community concerned.
In addition, this year's awards will have a new Best Home Gardens category.This is for individuals to showcase their beautiful home gardens in two categories: private landed housing (this includes bungalows and terrace houses), and public and private high-rise housing. Entries will be assessed by a panel of judges from the Singapore Gardening Society and representatives from public and private sector agencies. Prizes await the winners, which will be announced during Clean and Green Week in November this year.
Information about the awards are available today and also through our partners. Posters on the awards are now at your estates, schools and organisations, with detailed information and entry forms on the NParks website.I hope that you will encourage your Residents' Committee, Neighbourhood Committee, school or organisation to participate in this very meaningful programme.As the name of the award suggests, each of us should aim to live, work and play in a Community in Bloom.
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