National Development Minister Desmond Lee visiting a garden plot on the multi-storey carpark rooftop garden at Block 673 Jurong West Street 65 on June 25. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Residents have recently started growing their own greens at an allotment garden on the rooftop of a Housing Board multi-storey carpark in Jurong, a pilot that is part of HDB’s latest initiative to provide more green spaces for residents, and to help with Singapore’s push towards food resilience.

Jurong HDB Rooftop Farming

Comprising 89 gardening plots that are managed by 81 households, Boon Lay Secondary School and pre-school My First Skool, the rooftop garden at Block 673 Jurong West Street 65 is also a space to help promote interaction among neighbours.

Residents are free to plant herbs, vegetables or any other ornamental plants in their plot. Down the line, some of these urban farmers will share their harvests with their neighbours.

Community garden promotes ‘kampung’ spirit

Jurong resident David Yu, 40, said: “Our kampung spirit extends beyond this allotment garden.

“Neighbours are now helping one another with daily tasks, and what used to be just simple ‘hellos and goodbyes’ have now become meaningful conversations, discussing ways to help neighbours in need and sharing ideas to better improve the community.” 

4 more HDB gardens by 2024

Another four pilot allotment gardens in Woodlands and Sembawang will be completed in 2024 under HDB’s Green Towns Programme (GTP). Launched in 2020, the GTP is a 10-year plan to make HDB towns more sustainable and liveable.

“After the launch of the four gardens, we will monitor the take-up and identify areas we need to improve before we finalise this as part of the GTP,” Minister for National Development Desmond Lee told reporters during his visit to the Jurong West allotment garden on Sunday.

“Those who are interested can approach HDB and let us know. We want to roll out a few first, to identify areas that people like and areas we need to improve on, before we finalise this,” he added.

Implementing green features such as rooftop greenery and urban farms will reduce energy consumption in HDB estates by a targeted 15 per cent by 2030. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Multi-storey rooftop farms are for commercial use

On Singapore’s food resilience push, Mr Lee noted that the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment and the Singapore Food Agency have rolled out some multi-storey rooftop farms that are operated by social enterprises or by commercial entities. That pilot is still ongoing.

“All in, the 30-by-30 sustainability initiative enables us to be more resilient when it comes to some food items, and in the era of climate change, this is extremely important,” he said, referring to the Government’s target of producing 30 per cent of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.

“But in land-scarce Singapore, we want to make use of spaces that are available, for example, the rooftop of multi-storey carparks. Between the various agencies, we will work out over time the mix between the use of rooftops for commercial farms and for allotment gardens. In the long run, if we need these spaces for more intensive farming, these are available spaces,” said Mr Lee.

Green spaces play a crucial role in reducing ambient temperatures, as well as making the environment more pleasing to the eye. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Reduces HDB energy consumption by 15%

Green spaces play a crucial role in reducing ambient temperatures, as well as making the environment more pleasing to the eye.

Implementing green features such as rooftop greenery and urban farms will reduce energy consumption in HDB estates by a targeted 15 per cent by 2030.

Under the GTP, HDB will work with the community to identify suitable multi-storey carparks to locate the allotment gardens, before retrofitting the rooftops with infrastructure, such as a piping system and water points.

Allotment garden made up of modular greening solution

A modular greening solution, the Prefabricated Extensive Green (PEG) Roof Tray System, is then installed for plants to be cultivated in.

Developed by HDB, the PEG Roof Tray System is lightweight and can be easily installed on rooftops, without the need to carry out structural retrofitting works.

With an integrated water storage compartment that retains rainwater, the plants in the PEG trays are able to weather dry spells without rain. Conversely, the piping system connected to the trays drains off excessive rainwater during heavy downpours. 

Measuring about 1m by 2m, each gardening plot in the allotment garden is typically made up of eight PEG trays.

Residents began planting at their allocated plots in the Jurong rooftop garden in April, after signing up for them in late 2022.

Jurong HDB garden was a winning project with $20,000 funding

The garden was one of nine winning projects under the Lively Places Challenge 2023, a competition under HDB’s Lively Places Programme.

Under the challenge, Mr Yu, a project team leader who applied for funding to spruce up the Jurong allotment garden, and his team from Boon Lay Zone F resident network, received $20,000 in funding.

Together with 400 neighbourhood residents, he and his team then painted a wall mural, set up a composting area, and constructed a toy car racetrack and seating areas. They completed the project in early May.

In the coming months, the team plans to schedule regular harvests, where gardeners share the fruits of their labour, and hold workshops on gardening and food sustainability.

This article was first published in The Straits Times.