Singapore

Urban farming plotting its way to popularity

Waiting list for allotment gardening scheme a testament to increasing interest here

Urban farming is sinking deeper roots into Singapore, if a new pilot scheme at HortPark is anything to go by.

Launched in July by the National Parks Board (NParks), the allotment gardening scheme comprises 80 plots that can be rented by individuals in three-year leases.

The plots - each about 2.5 sq m - were all snapped up and there is now a waiting list.

One of the proud farmers, Ms Faith Foo, 40, has harvested a variety of vegetables such as corn, eggplants and melons since starting on her plot in August.

The founder of The Living Centre, which trains and equips urban farmers and promotes holistic living, said she has seen an increased interest in urban farming here in recent years, especially among those in their 20s and 30s.

She put this down to several factors, such as people looking at a more healthy and holistic lifestyle, which includes avoiding food that may have pesticides, and finding "different and creative ways to relieve the stress" of busy lives.

Though there are existing urban farming schemes, Ms Foo said the allotment gardening project has a special appeal since it grants the renter full control over what is planted.

OWNERSHIP

For instance, she said, the NParks' Community in Bloom initiative, which has around 1,000 community gardens island-wide, is a place where everyone shares a plot - decisions depend on the head gardener.

"Some people may want a greater sense of ownership," she said.

Other urban farmers also noticed growing interest.

Mr Bjorn Low, 36, a co-founder of Edible Garden City, which creates and maintains rooftop farms, said there "has been a general increase across the board" in knowing where one's food comes from.

The picture is similar for those who rent out much larger plots of land, such as Lim Chu Kang's D'Kranji.

The plots range from 5,000 to 100,000 sq ft.

Business development manager Nicholas Lai, 27, said he also received more inquiries on renting plots in recent years.

Whatever the reasons for urban farming's increasing popularity, its advocates are happy with the scene here.

On allotment gardening, Mr Ng Cheow Kheng, group director of horticulture and community gardening at NParks, said the public response has been "very encouraging".

NParks will look into expanding it depending on demand, he said.

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