I had been invited as Founder of Green Culture Singapore by the Southwest Community Development Council to be part of a three-member judging panel to assess the quality of community gardens located in the southwestern district of Singapore. The two other judges are Mrs Rosalind Tan (Chief Judge; from Alexandra Hospital) and Mr Mohd Azmi Shahbudin (Section Head from the Community in Bloom, National Parks Board).
This community garden competition was entitled “ShowGarden @ South West”, is part of the 1,000,000 Native Plants @ South West project. Its objectives of this competition are to recognise and pay tribute to those who have worked to create a green and conducive environment for the enjoyment of all and to heighten the awareness of environmental issues in particular to planting through innovative use of eco-friendly practices and methods.
There are a three types of awards that will be presented to winners. The Model ShowGarden Award is judged on the level of community involvement, quality of the garden, educational and recreational aspects as well as the amount of votes given by the community. Next, the Greenest Garden Award is another award given to the community garden that employs the most environmentally-friendly planting methods in gardening. Finally, the Most Active/Participative Garden Award recognises the community garden with the most number of registered members.
The judging took place on Tuesday and I had to apply for a day leave off from work. It was worth it as I could take my mind off hectic work schedule at the lab. We started work at about 10 am in the morning after a briefing at the JTC Summit. It was a long day ahead for all the judges because we have a total of 8 shortlised community gardens to visit and assess. The Mayor of Southwest CDC, Dr Amy Khor, together with Mr Liak Teng Lit, CEO Alexandra Hospital, were with us during our visit to the various community gardens.
I was quite surprised when my mother told me I was featured on the papers after I returned home that evening. I did not remember being interviewed by any reporter that day. After flipping to the page where the article that was published on the Shin Ming Daily, I found a group photograph that featured Dr Amy Khor; Chief Judge, Mrs Rosalind Tan and fellow community gardeners that was snapped at the Jurong Central Zone G Community Garden.
Incidentally, this community garden was led by one of our Community in Bloom Ambassadors, Mdm Kamisah bte Atan. It was a small reunion of sorts as I also got to meet up with Mr Richard Ashworth who is also another Community in Bloom Ambassador from Ivory Heights Condomium. He comes to Kamisah’s community gardens regularly to share tips and help around. Later that day, I also got to see Mdm Normala bte Alias, also a Community in Bloom Ambassador, at Kranji Secondary School, which is one of the shortlisted community gardens.
The newspaper article first reported the 1,000,000 Native Plants @ South West project which was an extension of the 100,000 Native Plants @ South West programe that was started in May 2006. The aim of the earlier 3-year project is to reinstate the natural heritage of Singapore through the planting of 100,000 native plants in the South West District. The aims of the newer project that increased the number of native plants to be planted are to engage and connect the community for bonding, reinstate natural heritage and create a conducive environment and the eco-system and to enhance the efforts to mitigate climate change.
The article went on to describe that Dr Amy Khor was there for the judging of the shortlisted entries for the ShowGarden @ South West competition. Dr Khor, who is also a plant-lover, believes that community gardening can be a good platform that gathers likeminded people together and to create and maintain a good community garden requires much self-initiative and advice and encourage from various parties.
In the last part of the article which concluded with an interview with an elderly gardener from the Jurong Central Zone G Community Garden, she revealed that community gardening is a meaningful outlet for retirees like her to use their time fruitfully rather than to while their time away doing nothing.