This week I had the pleasure of a field trip to Neptune Court’s allotment garden.
This really is a facility that all private and public estates should provide for their residents. Tucked away in a discrete and previously unused corner of the property, the management have opened up allotments of various sizes. Hooray to the Management! This really is a model for what should be done across Singapore. At most condos and estates there are similar spaces waiting to be used. While apartments themselves are often space constrained and lacking direct sunlight year-round, the surrounding spaces offer hope to urban farmers.
Allotments of various sizes are open to the residents on previously idle corner of the property
Neptune Court is a former HDB estate, completed in 1975. There sure don’t make them like they used to! This place is sprawling, but with a vibrant feel. When we arrived, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ was driving a group of seniors on through their aerobics workout on the forecourt of the central community plaza. While not all HDB estates, and certainly no condominium’s, lay claim to such acreage almost all have some underutilised space where a facility like the one we visited can be set up.
Completed in 1975, the former HDB Estate is a sprawling icon on the East Coast (source: https://stateofbuildings.sg/places/neptune-court)
Irene Ong saw Vegepod and immediately connected the dots leading to her allotment space. With her 3m long plot she was able to accommodate a large Vegepod (2m x 1m) and a medium Vegepod (1m x 1m) side by side. Using Vegepod, an allotment space like this can be scaled up or down as demand is needed by the residents. The Vegepod is portable, non-permanent and designed for growing edibles.
Three square meters of self-watered and protected Vegepod vegetable garden
Irene we are here at your Neptune Court community garden, I have been looking forward to visiting. I think it's fantastic that the management here have opened up some plots to let people come here an experiment and plant their edibles.
What do you have growing in your Vegepod?
Well I have kale and I've got lettuce and a bit of kailan, celery and buttercup lettuce. But mainly kale.
And what do you use your kale for? How do you prepare your kale?
I use it as salads or as a drink. I try to plant things that I will use, because I find very wasteful to grow things that you don't harvest.
Why is this important to you? As an activity, as a hobby; what is it that motivates you to do this?
Mainly as a hobby and certainly I want to live healthfully. By growing my own edibles I know what is in the ground. I know that it is organic. And having the Vegepod is good because it is raised up from the ground and the soil is contained.
Can you tell me your thoughts on some of the features of the Vegepod?
So far, it's been very positive because I am very active and away from the house a lot. So, I don't have to maintain it every day. If there are a few days where I am not free, I don't have to worry that my plants are not being watered. And I don't have to worry about snails of which we have a lot. They do try to cling on to the sides of the Vegepod but I can just spot them and remove them.
I can see that at the moment you are working on your plot and the Vegepod covers are up. Once you have finished here and leave your clip the covers down?
Yes. I have actually have found it very good for germinating, by using the cover. My kale has all come from seeds and most else from seedlings.
And is there a sense of community around this garden? Does it provide a focal point for the residents?
Oh yes absolutely. I know of people that have lived here for 20 years and never really met any of their neighbors. But now they can come down to the garden and interact with their neighbors. Even the single people come down and Mingle.
If this article has lit a fuse for you and a space you know to be suitable for such an initiative, Vegepod wants to discuss collaboration with you. We could event combine to pitch the idea of a community allotment space like this to your estate/condo management. Please see us at an event or drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The whole community is welcome to the garden