NParks announces plans to nurture professionalism and stewardship among youth in Singapore
01 Nov 2019
- S$10 million donated by Peter Lim for education and outreach
- Edible Horticulture Masterplan continues to grow nation of gardeners with new community gardening opportunities
Singapore, 1 November 2019 – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat announced plans to nurture the next generation of professionals and stewards in landscape, horticulture and ecology today at the opening of the third Community Garden Festival. To support youth from less privileged backgrounds participating in this initiative, DPM also announced that Mr Peter Lim will be setting up a S$10 million Peter Lim Horticulture and Animal Science Scholarship from which donations will be made to NParks’ Garden City Fund (GCF). Mr Lim’s donation is the single largest contribution from an individual in the history of GCF.
NParks will bring together formal education and outreach programmes to engage and empower youth in our community to become active stewards for greenery and biodiversity in Singapore. As stewards, youth will play a pivotal role as NParks rallies the community to play an active part in the next phase of Singapore’s greening journey to strengthen ecological and climate resilience.
Supporting students exploring a career in the landscape, horticulture and ecology sector
NParks has been working with Institutes of Higher Learning to strengthen their curriculum with higher value skills to build the next generation of professionals in the landscape, horticulture and ecology sector. Taking ITE’s Nitec in Urban Greenery and Landscape and Higher Nitec in Landscape Management and Design programmes for example, there will be opportunities for students to understand the principles of design, ecology and conservation, as well as apply technology in arboriculture and horticulture management through Student-Run Parks. Enhanced landscape-related courses, internships, as well as WSQ and professional certification will also be available for students.
The GCF will administer the Peter Lim Horticulture and Animal Science Scholarship to support deserving youths from less privileged backgrounds to pursue their interest, support their skills development and build capability in the landscaping, horticulture, ecology, veterinary and animal science sectors.
Developing young nature stewards for greenery and biodiversity
Together with the National Youth Council and NParks’ partners in greenery and biodiversity, NParks is also enhancing the outreach and community-led programmes to train and empower youth to exercise stewardship and share knowledge with their peers and the wider community. Anchored by the existing Biodiversity Friends Forum (BFF) and a new Green Friends Forum (GFF), these programmes will help youth develop soft skills and a deeper understanding of the subject.
To nurture active stewardship, NParks will also introduce a Youth Stewards for Nature programme that will provide committed youth with training and opportunities to tackle challenges in landscape, horticulture and ecology. For instance, youth could be involved in initiating projects to raise awareness on the importance of bees in the ecosystem, deepen social outreach efforts by community gardeners, or discourage feeding of pigeons. Under this programme, NParks staff and partners will guide and develop youth in planning and implementing the various initiatives.
Beyond BFF and GFF, NParks will reach out to more youth with an interest in greenery and biodiversity through its existing outreach programmes for secondary and tertiary institutions. These programmes include Biodiversity Week for Schools, Science Communication for Community in Nature Ambassadors, Greening Schools for Biodiversity and Community in Bloom.
NParks is also working with Outward Bound Singapore (OBS) to engage youth through these outreach programmes.
Continuing to grow a nation of gardeners
Beyond engaging youth, NParks continues to deepen the community’s knowledge and interest in gardening. Since the launch of the Edible Horticulture Masterplan at Community Garden Festival 2017, NParks has introduced more than 50 species of edibles to the community, e.g. Golden papaya (Carica papaya), Arrowroot (Maranta arundinacea) and Green curry brinjal (Solanum stramoniifolium). Many of these edibles can now be found in several community gardens across Singapore.
NParks also started carrying out plant trials this year to test the suitability of new varieties and cultivars of edibles and ornamentals for local gardening conditions. Since the start of the trials, 75 plant species and cultivars have been planted, including new varieties of edibles such as the Edamame bean, red radish and Japanese sweet potato, as well as new fragrant flowering ornamentals, such as Gardenia, Cananga, Jasmine and Water Jasmine cultivars. These varieties and cultivars will eventually be introduced to the gardening community and to landscapes across Singapore. More than 150 new varieties and cultivars have already been shared with the gardening community since the first Community Garden Festival in 2015.
As part of growing a vibrant gardening culture in the community, NParks has been actively training gardeners under the Community Garden Training Series since end 2017. To date, more than 1,000 gardeners have been trained, expanding their knowledge in a wide variety of horticulture-related topics, with a focus on edibles. Eventually, these gardeners will become CIB Ambassadors within their communities, and be equipped with the skills to teach others how to grow edibles and sustain their community gardens.
CIB programmes in all My First Skools
Engaging the young is a key focus of NParks’ Community in Bloom (CIB) programme, and this involves a concerted push to collaborate with pre-schools. Under an active project with My First Skool (MFS), NParks will be supporting 74 of their preschools through CIB programmes by end of 2019, and come March 2021, more than 140 MFS centres will offer CIB programmes.
Community Garden Festival
These announcements were made at the third Community Garden Festival, which is being held at Jurong Lake Gardens, Singapore’s first national gardens in the heartlands, for the first time. Themed “Gardening Through the Years”, this year’s Festival runs from 1 to 3 November 2019 and features an outdoor centrepiece created by over 100 CIB gardeners and ambassadors from across five Community Development Councils (CDCs).
For the new Interiorscape segment, NParks teamed up with IKEA to design a modern Scandinavian home, featuring Living, Dining and Study spaces. The hardscape of IKEA furniture is complemented by the softscape of various types of greenery, which includes both ornamental and edible plants alongside aquascape and terrarium displays. These displays will show visitors the multitude of options for growing plants within and around the home, and inspire them to embark on their own gardening journey.
There are also familiar favourites at the Festival, such as the Community Garden Edibles Competition, horticulture talks and workshops and a marketplace.
At the event, DPM Heng handed out long service awards to seven NParks volunteers who have given their time and expertise to support NParks’ City in a Garden vision.