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Garden Stories: Ong Chun Yeow, the Community Rooftop Farmer

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In Yishun, you will find one of only a handful of rooftop community gardens in Singapore, built atop a HDB car park. Ong Chun Yeow is one of several estate residents with a garden allotment, growing lots of leafy greens like purslane, swiss chard, and amaranth, herbs, galangal, as well as fruiting vegetables like bitter gourd, okra and tomatoes.

Opened in 2014, this rooftop garden features 30 garden allotments, which residents ballot for. The diversity of plants in this garden is incredible, I saw corn, broccoli, kale, and strawberry plants, a papaya tree, different varieties of eggplants, gourds, beans, herbs and spices. Through clever space stacking and bio-intensive growing methods, one can maximise their yield, however limited the space, as can be seen in this garden. I also noticed many ladybirds, a beneficial insect and wonderful pest control agent, always good to have them around!

I got to know Chun Yeow through my circle of environmentalist friends and we have been Facebook friends for years, but I don’t recall actually meeting him in person till this year. He is keen on heritage and environmental issues, desires to have a low-impact existence, and practices intentional living. He recently received his Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) and is looking forward to more hands-on permaculture experiences locally and overseas. Whenever I ask him what he’s doing on the weekend, it seems like he’s usually involved in at least one urban farming-related event. As a lover of plants and nature, he’s also passionate about community building activities, such as those organised by Foodscape Collective.

Find out more about Chun Yeow’s journey in this interview, and check out the photos of this marvellous rooftop community garden!

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Soil Mixing Workshop at Hort Park

Old woman hands holding fresh soil. Symbol of spring and ecology concept

This basic soil workshop is back again this Sunday. Come by if you would like to find out how to grow more productive vegetables using organic fertiliser, and learn to make your own soil mix in the process!

Soil Mixing Workshop (by The Tender Gardener and NÓNG by Edible Garden City)

Wish to learn the basics of soil and learn to make your own seed raising mix and potting mix? There are many recipes out there, but it also depends on what you’re growing. Hear about the variations of soil mixes and participate in this hands-on soil mixing workshop.

Date/ Time: 28th August, 10.30am12.30pm
Venue: HortPark, 33 Hyderabad Rd (Off Alexandra Road), #01-01 (Beside the Lawn), Singapore 119578
Cost: $55 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential.
 What you will learn in this session:
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Physical needs of plants
– Soil amendment basics
– How to grow healthy seedlings
– Dealing with pests
– How to mix your own seed raising mix and potting mix

What you will take home:
– A list of seed raising mix and potting mix recipes
– Seed raising mix sample
– Potting mix sample

Join this session by reserving your seat here!

Picnic Days: Additional Kokedama Workshop Now Available!

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The morning session has sold out, and an additional workshop is now available! Here are more details on this workshop, which is a collaboration with Plain Vanilla Bakery, and part of Picnic Days –

String Garden: Kokedama Workshop

Wish to introduce greenery to your space, but looking for something space-saving yet stylish? Also known as ‘moss ball’ and ‘string garden’, Kokedama is a variant of bonsai cultivation, where plant roots are wrapped with moss. It can be suspended using string, or left to sit on a piece of pottery, to be admired.

During this hands-on session, participants will learn how to make and care for their own Kokedama, and take home their creation along with a set of plant notes.

Date: 21 August (Sunday)

Time: 2pm – 4pm

Venue: Plain Vanilla, 1D Yong Siak Street

Price: $75 per person

RSVP: Register in store, or by e-mail to workshops@plainvanillabakery.com

Permaculture Design Certificate course with Milkwood

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A few days ago, I received my Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) from Milkwood after almost 14 straight days of classes. In between, we had one off day to prepare our personal design projects for presentation and submission, but otherwise, it was a 9-5 day every day. And now that it’s over, I’m a bit sad that I won’t be seeing my classmates very often, but we will continue to stay connected via a private Facebook group that Milkwood created for us.

If you’re wondering what permaculture is, my extremely basic definition is – a holistic design system for managing an ecosystem in harmony with nature, you can find other definitions here. Permaculture co-originator Bill Mollison defines it as “… A philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted & thoughtful observation rather than protracted & thoughtless action; of looking at systems in all their functions rather than asking only one yield of them & of allowing systems to demonstrate their own evolutions,” while the other co-originator, David Holmgren has updated the definition to be “Consciously designed landscapes which mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for provision of local needs.”

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This course was a spiritual experience for me, and probably for most who attended, because we interacted with many gentle, lovely, likeminded people along the way, and the course provided a catalyst for creating change in our lives. Even though I was already open to all the concepts we discussed, the process opened me up further to doing even more for others and the community. I felt recharged after the course and on the last day, we left class on a high note, feeling that there were so many possibilities before us.

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Photo by Oliver Holmgren

Upcoming workshops on Kokedama and Edible Flowers at Plain Vanilla Bakery

I am stoked to be partnering Plain Vanilla Bakery on a couple of workshops in August, as part of Picnic Days – a series of events held over Summer. I’ll be leading workshops on making Kokedama, also known as ‘moss ball’ or string garden, and growing edible flowers. There are lots of interesting activities, including film screenings and an exhibition, see below for all listings.

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