New National Masterplan to Encourage More to Garden
02 Nov 2017
- NParks takes over development of the Orchid Industry
The National Parks Board (NParks) today announced a new national gardening masterplan for Singapore which centres on promoting edible gardening. The masterplan will be implemented through both ongoing and new initiatives such as training, the expansion of the allotment gardening scheme, as well as outreach efforts like the Community Garden Festival. With a large number of community gardeners growing edibles, the Edible Horticulture Masterplan aims to increase knowledge and cultivate the community’s interest in gardening by opening up more avenues for the public to participate in Singapore’s greening efforts. During the opening of the Community Garden Festival at HortPark, NParks also unveiled HortHouse, which will serve as the new training hub for the Centre for Urban Greenery and Ecology (CUGE). This new landscape fronting HortHouse featuring eleven families of flowers and foliage will also provide an outdoor showcase of horticultural varieties to complement learning, and appeal to home gardeners.
The focus on edibles taps on the immense interest in edible gardening to nurture younger gardeners. After more than a decade since the establishment of the Community in Bloom programme, community gardeners have honed their skills in growing edibles. At present, 80% of the gardening groups in HDB estates grow edibles in their community gardens.
This burgeoning interest in edibles is also evident in the increasing number of entries in the NParks Community Garden Edibles Competition each year. There were a record number of 400 participants in this year’s competition, an approximately 33% increase from the previous year, in addition to an overall improvement in the quality of entries as the competition enters its third year. Community gardeners and individuals received awards for edible plants they had been growing since March, gaining recognition for their skills in cultivating plants such as tomatoes, long beans and bitter gourds. For a full list of winners, please refer to Media Factsheet A.
Edible Horticulture Masterplan
The Masterplan will be rolled out through four main areas, namely more spaces for gardening, training opportunities and resources for edible gardening, promoting new plant varieties and horticultural technology, as well as education and outreach.
More spaces for gardening
New allotment gardening plots will be introduced in ten more parks islandwide over the next two years following the initial success at HortPark. Apart from 160 more plots at HortPark, there will also be over 200 allotment gardening plots at Punggol Park, Clementi Woods Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park by end 2017. These parks were selected for their accessibility to densely-populated heartland towns. Members of the public can expect more than 1,000 allotment garden plots by 2019 as part of initiatives to increase spaces provided for gardening. More information on allotment gardens can be found in Media Factsheet B.
Raising horticulture skills
Community gardeners will be able to take new courses on edible gardening as part of a tiered training programme under the Community in Bloom initiative from early 2018. The latest courses are part of efforts to equip gardeners with training resources, and will augment the current training courses which provide fundamental knowledge on gardening techniques. Gardeners who have developed more experience and skills will then share their knowledge with others in the community. Additionally NParks will continue working with AVA to provide training for growing leafy edibles through the Master Growers programme, which will encompass both classroom tutorials and practical sessions in gardens.
Introducing new species of plants and technology
To continue making gardening accessible and to increase the options for those interested in edible gardening, NParks will promote a greater variety of plants and horticultural technology. The NParks Pasir Panjang Nursery has been establishing a germplasm bank of both native and cultivated fruit trees as well as edible plant species in the last few years. Among more than 200 types of fruit trees and edible plants introduced across Singapore are species such as mangosteens, while others like the Golden Papaya and Society Garlic may be available for purchase at HortPark’s monthly Gardeners’ Day Out events. NParks and the industry will display a number of innovative technologies, such as vertical planters and growth lights during the Community Garden Festival, which can be used at home to facilitate the growing of edibles indoors.
NParks is organising tours of new community garden trails of Teck Ghee and Bukit Gombak – Hong Kah North on 11 and 12 November in conjunction with the Community Garden Festival for members of the public to find out more about gardening in their neighbourhoods and meet the gardeners in their community. Tour participants will be a part of the larger community taking part in activities at the community gardens, which encompass block parties, school visits and sharing of harvest with charity organisations. In addition to these two tours, community gardeners will be hosting visitors at community events in November and December along garden trails which were launched earlier, namely Bukit Panjang, Fengshan and Tampines. Among the activities for these events are open houses of the gardens, a farmers’ market, competitions, as well as sessions for community gardeners to share gardening tips or distribute plant cuttings. Online trail guides for the five community garden trails are also available for those who wish to visit these gardens on their own when the gardeners are present.
The Community Garden Festival is a culmination of outreach efforts, bringing together community and industry, two vital pillars in co-creating our City in a Garden. Visitors will be able to learn about the latest trends in edible gardening, as well as techniques for growing their own edibles at home during the Festival. These outreach efforts will be supplemented with the introduction of more edible species in existing school programmes like the NParks “Every Child A Seed” initiative, which distributes seeds to 40,000 primary school students yearly, to pique an interest in growing edibles from a young age.
A new HortPark Visitors Service counter will be housed within the 0.7-hectare conserved bungalow at 394 Alexandra Road, now named ‘HortHouse’. Most courses for the landscape industry will be conducted in the bungalow to cultivate expertise vital to Singapore’s City in a Garden vision. A new landscape fronting HortHouse featuring eleven plant families will serve as an outdoor showcase of horticultural varieties. This showcase will complement the lessons at HortHouse, and will inspire those growing their own ornamentals at home. More information on HortHouse can be found in Media Factsheet C.
NParks to take over orchid industry
NParks also announced that it will be taking over the management and development of the orchid industry from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) in January 2018. Orchids play a significant role in Singapore’s national identity and in Singapore’s vision of a City in a Garden. By having oversight of the orchid industry, NParks’ will be able to consolidate its efforts for the orchid sector with the broader landscape industry and better understand the needs of the industry to develop policies accordingly.
Community Garden Festival 2017
The biennial Community Garden Festival was first held in 2015 at HortPark to engage the gardening community and members of public who are passionate about growing their own greens. The Festival brings together gardening enthusiasts in providing them with a platform to bond over a common interest and share knowledge of plants and gardening. Familiar features of the Community Garden Festival in its second edition this year include gardening plots set up by community gardeners as well as tours of the Pasir Panjang Nursery, talks and workshops. Details of the Festival are found in Media Factsheet D.