Singapore promotes green roof in community

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The Clean and Green Singapore 2015 campaign is well underway but even before the campaign began, some eco-warriors have been doing their bit to foster the love of gardening in their communities.

One such green champion is James Lam Mong Wai, the man behind innovations such as lights that stimulate plant growth, edible plants that are ready for harvesting in just weeks and vertical growing systems.

The 54-year-old aims to help busy urbanites grow vegetables in their living spaces. “We all live in a very land-shortage area or country. So the need really is to try to find a way to grow vertically just to save space,” said Mr Lam, consultant and irrigation designer at UGrowGardens.

“Also, the important thing is to be able to grow things close to where you live, not way out in a farm somewhere in Lim Chu Kang or something, because this way, you can actually have your vegetables exactly where you want them. It also reduces the carbon footprint.”

He also started a rooftop garden at Bugis Cube, so that people can come together to grow vegetables. The garden now has six volunteers.

Mr Lam was one of seven people who recently received the Community in Bloom Ambassador award for promoting gardening in their communities. The award is part of the National Parks Board’s Community In Bloom programme, which is into its 10th year.

Another recipient is 57-year-old Jennifer Tan. The vice-principal of Bedok View Secondary School had turned part of her school’s rooftop into a garden. “I have a huge rooftop which is unused,” she said. “Students keep destroying stuff on the ground floor so I thought maybe I’ll have something up sky-high, where they can come and learn. It’s a life lab of some sort, at the same time, to cool the entire building down.

“We had a lot of joy. At the beginning, we were too excited with the farm so we had kangkong throughout the whole farm. When we harvested it was over 600 kilogrammes. 600 kilogrammes equates to four months of sales, which is very difficult. And then we had some problems with bayam. We then converted to peanuts, but then we harvested over 600 kilogrammes of peanuts and we didn’t know what to do with them!”

She believes the farm has helped the students, too. “Our students from the Service Learning Club have won quite a lot of awards in their projects – all relating to the farm,” she said. “Then, our Chinese department used the farm and they submitted articles to the newspapers as well. We have had our info-comm club come up here and take photographs. They’ve won quite a few competitions too.

“But more importantly, students could apply what they learn in class in the farm here, whether it’s maths, geography or science, and they have hands-on (activities). They’re also allowed to think for themselves, experiment with the different strengths of enzymes, experiment how to create their own insecticides, using chili powder, belachan, lemongrass, cooking oil. So it’s like a playground for them.”

Apart from promoting a love for gardening, the Community in Bloom programme also provides opportunities for people from different backgrounds to come together. There are now more than 700 gardens under the Community in Bloom programme, and since 2008, 36 Community in Bloom ambassadors have been appointed.”

Source: Channel News Asia

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