Clementi Makeshift Farm getting the boot, literally. Copyright © Matthew Allen, WSJ

A community garden is a single piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people.
                                                                                                                                                                -Merriam Webster online

Community gardening is gaining its foothold in recent years with more and more neighbourhood residents’ community (RC) centres in theSingapore heartlands introducing this community bonding activity into the estate community it serves. With more and more community gardens sprouting out all over the island in estates like Punggol, Bukit Panjang, Bangkit with the most notable one in Tampines, named Tampines Green. But more recently, the community garden located at Clementi Avenue 4 has been stealing all the lime light, not because it has been growing out the biggest or freshest fruits or vegetables, but because it is sitting on land almost two football fields in length, is bounded by a portion of the former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) railway line, the Sungei Ulu Pandan Canal, Clementi Avenue 4 and Clementi Avenue 6 which now belongs to the government . This garden, encompasses the true sprit of “community gardening”. organised and started by nearby residents who decided that they wanted to relive their “kampong” experience is totally unorganised. it is not started by any community (such as the residents’ community, community centres gardening club etc.) whereas most of the community gardens are in the other parts of the island are. With other similar vegetable patch in Bukit Panjang beneath the Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE flyover) now defunct, This is to date probably the largest community garden patches started out by “true community, for community”. But this collage of vegetable patches is not going to live anymore longer. It has received eviction notice from Singapore Land Authority(SLA) for trespassing on state land with at the point of writing this article, has no future plans for the next 3- 5 years. With the government authorities such as National Parks Board (Nparks) advocating “community in bloom” program, Singapore Tourism Board (STB) advocating “city in a garden” and Housing Development Board (HDB) advocating “community spiritness in estates”. With citizens/community now taking their own initiative to start up a little piece garden without the need of higher authority instruction,SLA is destroying everything that took the other different organisations to startup and built over the years. With the Residents’ Communities in other communities in other part ofSingapore trying to develop community gardens that no one tends to and finding it hard to get people to work on it,SLA is enrooting a fully thriving and healthy gardening community off. Local authorities, in my own opinion need to loosen their foothold at time for adhoc activities like this to happen. Clamping down every single activity this is not “designed” to be there would just make Singapore a souless city whoch could be anywhere in the world as described by Rem Koolhaas on Singapore in his book S,M,L,XL : “It is pure intention: If there is chaos, it is authored chaos; if it is ugly, it is designed ugliness; if it is absurd, it is willed absurdity.”ForSingapore, The eviction of Clementi Vegetable patch bySLA is a sad day in community gardening history. This is one step forward and two steps backwards.

Image adapted from : http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/03/20/singapore-considering-giving-community-farm-the-boot/

Additional reading :
Singapore Considering Giving Community Farm the Boot – Wall Street Journal
http://blogs.wsj.com/searealtime/2012/03/20/singapore-considering-giving-community-farm-the-boot/