In land-scarce Singapore, having a garden can be a pipedream for many HDB dwellers. However, it is not unattainable, with a bit of (balloting) luck, you can have a chance to flex those green fingers with an allotment garden plot.
National Parks Board (NParks) has recently announced the launch of 4 new allotment gardens in 4 different locations: Bedok Reservoir Park, East Coast Park, Lower Seletar Reservoir Park and one-north Park.
Allotment gardens are areas located within parks and gardens that house gardening plots available for lease to the community to grow their own plants. Applications are open from 29 November 2020, 10am to 6 December 2020, 10pm. Successful applications will be selected by ballot and offered their own allotment garden plot.
NParks Allotment Garden Plots Are In Parks While Community Gardens Are In HDB Estates
Firstly, an allotment garden plot is different from the community gardens in HDB estates. If you are thinking about gardening in your HDB estate, you are most likely thinking about community gardens. The major difference is that community gardens are run and organised by the community with the support from NParks and community agencies such as Residents’ Committees (RCs) or Town Councils (TCs), while allotment gardens are organised by NParks.
Technically, you could form a community group any time in any residential estate (public or private) and seek NParks’ approval and support to design and build a community garden. However, this could take a long time before your community group becomes established and gain enough support for the community garden to be approved and built.
With an allotment garden, the layout and garden design are already predetermined by NParks. Water supplies and storage areas are already in place for you to just focus on tending your little allotment plot.
|Allotment Garden||Community Garden|
|Located within NParks gardens and parks||Usually located within the community, e.g. HDB estates, private housing estates, schools|
|Allocated by NParks by a ballot system||Organised and led by a community group with the support of NParks, RCs, TCs, etc|
|Unfenced||Fenced or unfenced depending on the design of community garden|
|Raised planter bed (2.5m x 1m) with mini tool storage area||Varied layout and bed size depending on the design of community garden|
|Lease of 3 years||No fixed lease but community should run the garden sustainably|
|$57 (excluding GST) for 3 years’ lease||No fixed cost but community should run the garden sustainably|
Now that you know the difference between an allotment garden and a community garden, and you are still keen to ballot for an allotment garden, here’s what you need know about applying for a NParks allotment garden plot.
Every Household In Singapore Is Eligible To Ballot For One Allotment Garden Plot
Unlike BTO balloting, as long as you are part of a household residing in Singapore, you are eligible to ballot for a garden plot. This includes foreigners, though Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents are given priority. You need to be at least 18 years old to apply. Applications can be made via the NParks website.
Each household may only apply for and lease one garden plot. Each plot is leased for 3 years and you cannot request a shorter or longer lease. Even if you get everyone in your household to ballot, only one ballot entry will be considered. If successful, you will receive a Letter of Offer from NParks informing of the day you can start your new garden.
Your Garden Cannot Be Too Tall, Plant Illegal Plants Or Use Chemical Pest Control
As a guideline, NPark advises gardeners to avoid planting poisonous plants or those with sap as these can cause discomfort or harm to others in the garden. Plants and garden structures (such as trellises) cannot exceed 1 metre in height from the soil level of the planter bed. This would exclude most fruit trees or any tree in general. Shrubs and climbing plants are fair game as long as their support structures or full plant height don’t go higher than 1 metre.
You are also not allowed to grow illegal plants, so banish those ideas of starting your own marijuana farm in Singapore.
You are also not allowed to use chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides as this may kill beneficial insects or cause adverse reactions in others who are also using the garden.
You Are Fully Responsible For Your Allotment Garden Plot
Aside from the provision of the planter bed (and the soil within), tool storage area and shared water point, NParks does not provide you with anything else. You will have to source your own seeds, seedlings or plants, as well as any other gardening materials.
You are fully responsible for your own garden plot and its upkeep and appearance. This means that if your garden plot is neglected and starts collecting stagnant water to become a mosquito breeding ground, you are responsible when the National Environment Agency (NEA) comes to call on you. NParks would not help you maintain your garden in your absence.
If you fail to maintain your allotment garden plot, NParks may terminate your lease and allocate your plot to another aspiring gardener.
While the cost of leasing an allotment garden plot is only $57, this is an endeavour that is probably not for a beginner gardener or someone who is not committed to spending substantial time and effort tending to his or her garden. If you are unsure, consider starting your own container garden at home or take some gardening courses first.