SINGAPORE: Residents who have been illegally using state land at Clementi Avenue 4 for farming now have an official community farm.
The farm was launched on Sunday by Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, and Member of Parliament for Holland—Bukit Timah Group Representation Constituency, Sim Ann.
The farm comes after the Bukit Timah Citizens’ Consultative Committee successfully applied for a three—year temporary occupation licence for the plot of state land.
It cost about S$60,000 to set up the farm.
For five years, laboratory manager Lester Yeong and his retiree father indulged their passion for gardening in their Clementi neighbourhood.
But their efforts were given the thumbs down as they were farming on state land.
Mr Yeong and other illegal farmers were asked by the authorities to clear out within two weeks in March last year, after some residents complained of smoke from the burning of leaves.
He said: "Looking at all the folks, it spurred me on to do something for everyone. I made the initiative to gather everyone, approach the RC for this community project to go on so that at least the folks from this area will be able to continue this hobby at their convenience."
The Bukit Timah Citizens’ Consultative Committee then obtained an extension from the authorities on their behalf.
Ms Sim said: "The objective is to ensure that this is for wider community benefit. What’s very important is that I think including the farmers, the opportunity to regularise what used to be unauthorised activities. We saw the opportunity for more people to come in and I think the farmers were very receptive of that."
Users of the community farm will pay an annual maintenance fee of S$60 for their individual plots.
Residents originally involved in unauthorised planting were invited to take up a plot each, while remaining plots were allocated through ballot to other interested residents.
Mr Yeong gets a 32—square metre plot to grow his produce.
He said: "The kids love it. There was one point of time, we were here every evening, from about 5pm to 7pm. They will just go around running, playing with water, catching insects, helping to weed. They enjoy this experience that they can’t get in the classroom."
The land will be divided into 30 plots and fitted with amenities for gardening.
Farmers will also get water supply and a lighted footpath, leading from Blocks 301 and 305 Clementi Ave 4 to the community farm and the park connector parallel to the Ulu Pandan Canal.
Bukit Timah Citizens’ Consultative Committee is also advising farmers against the burning of leaves and breeding of mosquito habitats.
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