Green Corridors in the Garden City
We often hear of Singapore as the Garden City, with the famous Botanic gardens spanning six hectares of land. Did you know that this is the only Botanic gardens recognized as an UNESCO heritage site?
A typical corridor with potted plants in a public housing apartment block
However, there are also many inspiring people who incorporate nature into their daily lives. Here, we introduce you to the ‘green corridors’ that we see sprouting up in buildings all over Singapore and some home grown green initiatives.
Take a stroll through your neighbourhood HDB (note: HDB stands for Housing Development Board, the government body that builds Singapore’s public housing, though it is also used by locals to refer to blocks of apartments), and you will often find that green, not gray, colours the corridors. Plants and food crops of all kinds have been cultivated here, and form a shared space for resident communities to enjoy viewing. Many HDB gardeners have been featured in headlines for their creative and risk driven experimentation.
Balan Gopal’s Herb Garden, Photo: Straits Times
Mr Balan Gopal researched on using coffee grounds as a base for growing various foods, not just plants but his favourite oyster mushrooms. It was not just a fun home experiment though, as his trial and error in using not yet fully decomposed fish guts as fertilizer, led to complaints about pungent odours.
However, the patience of his family and neighbours certainly bore fruit, as he became a proud and successful owner of a sustainable HDB garden. The emphasis on a shared green space is pertinent here, as nearby residents enjoy the sharing of herbs that are grown in excess.
There is a popular undergrowth of budding nature lovers and garden hobbyists. There are forums such as greenculture.sg, founded to provide a space for the community online, especially with many of the youth taking a keen interest. The founder, Mr Wilson Wong, keeps a blog showcasing his personal garden at https://tropicalgardener.wordpress.com/. Greenculture.sg has worked closely with other green initiatives, such as National park’s community in bloom, to educate the community about the day to day relevance of gardening.
Kampung Kampus, source: groundupinitiative.org
Green citizenship goes beyond HDBs. One of the most inspiring stories comes from Mr Tay Lai Hock from Grounds-Up Initiatives (GUI), who is overcoming financial struggles and cynical opposition to his Kampung Kampus. This is a site of sustainable tropical architecture which promotes the idea of “getting your hands dirty”; To actively take care of the space and inspire others to do the same.
The impressive organization nurtures an ‘ecosystem of Initiatives’, which include ‘Wow Kampung’ which focuses on environmental education through a social enterprise, and ‘Touchwood’, which focuses on practical carpentry skills. Most impressive is the ‘Farmily’ initiative which promotes farming as a healthy lifestyle and a practical means for old folks to earn extra income, certainly needed where many are struggling to get by.
Mr Derrick Ng’s HDB Doorstep Farm. Photos: Ariffin Jamar, Derrick Ng.
HDB farmers and green entrepreneurs do far more than share crops, they contribute to the essential struggle against food wastage and environmental cynicism in Singapore. They bring us closer to the vision of cultivating a greater shared responsibility in recycling and maintaining green spaces, not just for the Garden City, but for our neighbourhood green corridors.
Singapore’s green initiatives have certainly inspired us to pursue efficient green designs. Check this out for your very own window to nature.-- Ariz Ansari, Intern