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New community farm that will donate produce to vulnerable residents among Bukit Batok Green Plan initiatives

SINGAPORE – A new community farm in Bukit Batok that will donate grown edibles to vulnerable residents is in the works.

It is part of the Bukit Batok Green Plan, an initiative launched by the Bukit Batok Grassroots Organisations (GROs) and their community partners, including national volunteerism movement Team Nila, on Saturday (April 17).

The initiative aims to encourage residents to participate in environmentally sustainable efforts within the GRC.

Other plans under the initiative include creating an environmental task force which looks into infrastructure to promote cycling, such as a public bicycle repair stand and a cycling interest group.

A woodcrafting interest group – which will use wood from trees affected by the development of the upcoming Jurong Region Line – is also being planned.

Adviser to Bukit Batok GROs Murali Pillai, who was present at the launch, said: “Ultimately… it is about changing attitudes, making sure that – for each of us – we do our best to ensure that we have a sustainable bright spot in Bukit Batok.”

The launch of the Bukit Batok Green Plan comes after reports by The Straits Times and The New Paper last month of individuals planting illegally in forests and state-owned land.

These include discoveries of gardens in Bukit Batok Hillside Park where pumpkin, okra, tomato and papaya were grown, and of a lemon orchard near the Singapore Zoo.

Mental health experts told ST last month that it was not surprising that more people were finding personal “green spaces” to cope with anxiety and stress due to Covid-19 measures.

Dr Annabelle Chow, principal clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology, had said then that gardening or making shelters in forests would be an extension of such methods to be around nature.

“There is a lot of research which shows being around nature is generally closely linked with positive mental well-being,” she had said.

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Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from the Centre for Psychological Wellness, had said mental strains start when people feel they have been cooped up and denied their “escape”.

He had added that a change in scenery, sunshine and fresh air can help one freshen up cognitively.

When asked if the new green initiative will help channel people away from such activities into proper avenues for gardening, Mr Murali said: “I think the creation of allotment gardens would allow our residents to take up gardening and at the same time make sure that it is done in an orderly way, such that… the estate looks good, green and remains a place everybody can be proud of.”

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