SINGAPORE: Apartment blocks by the Housing and Development Board (HDB) often share community gardens, but 49-year-old Leon Yeo and his team of neighbours sought to have something different for their Woodlands neighbourhood.
They decided to build a hydroponics garden, which now sits at a common area near Block 573 Woodlands Drive 16. Rows of white PVC tubes occupy 30 square metres of land or about half the size of a three-room flat. So far, it has been used to grow edible greens like chye sim and Chinese cabbage.
The Hydroponics Community Garden is one of the top three winning ideas at Build-a-thon 2019, a competition which encourages residents to propose and implement ideas for creating friendly and lively neighborhoods in HDB estates.
The winners were chosen for their ability to address the needs of the community and for the sustainability of their ideas, and were each awarded S$2,500.
Since its opening in March, more than 200 people have been drawn to the eco-talks and workshops held there.
The first harvest also yielded 5kg to 6kg of vegetables, which were distributed among the residents.
The team also received the Best Social Media Team prize of S$500 for effectively using social media to engage residents on their project.
Mr Yeo moved into the area about a year ago and embarked on this project with the hope of getting to know his neighbours.
“Seeing the interest and smiles of the residents has been rewarding,” said Mr Yeo.
He said juggling his full-time job with building the project between January and March was "challenging", but thanked his dedicated team members.
A similar story of teamwork can be seen at Block 683C Woodlands Drive 62.
The void deck has undergone a makeover, with 3-D murals showcasing different eras of Singapore’s development. Residents can also play traditional games such as hopscotch and snakes and ladders on the floor decals.
The Instagram-worthy hangout spot won the top prize at HDB’s Build-a-thon 2019. Named Konnect Point, the space will be used for monthly weekend breakfast events, as well as workshops and flea markets.
The garden and the Konnect Point are some of the building projects supported by the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places (FFLP) Fund.
Set up in 2016, it aims to encourage residents to initiate and implement projects that contribute to the building of active communities which can range from public installations to workshops.
In 2018, funding was increased to up to S$20,000 per project, compared to just S$10,000 previously.
So far, HDB has supported four community projects by merchants' associations and a further 14 building projects from residents.
Out of the 144 applications for funding it has received to date, HDB has supported 110 projects with about S$370,000 disbursed.
More HDB residents are also playing an active role in community building.
A volunteer programme launched by the HDB in 2017 has grown to almost 7,900 participants, with more than 75 per cent or 5,900 of these volunteers aged 35 years and below.
Through their work, the volunteers have reached out to more than 118,000 residents by organising workshops and engagement sessions.
About 760 of these volunteers were given Certificates of Appreciation for their efforts at the launch of the HDB Community Week on Saturday (May 25) at Kampung Admiralty.
The event will run until Jun 2 at Bedok Town Square and Punggol's Oasis Terraces.
Speaking to the media at the sidelines of the event, Minister for Social and Family Development & Second Minister for National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, said the HDB Friendly Faces, Lively Places (FFLP) Fund allows communities together to take ownership of the places that they love.