MasterGrowers and their harvests at AVA's Horticulture Services Centre.
In 2015, AVA started the MasterGrower programme to equip gardening enthusiasts with the necessary skills to grow leafy and fruited vegetables in HDB housing estates. Under the programme, community gardeners go through a two-month training conducted by an AVA expert, who will teach them the basics of growing pesticide-free vegetables from-seed-to-harvest, as well as tips on managing plant pests and diseases.
Upon completion of the training, these community gardeners, or MasterGrowers, then share their skills with other community gardeners. A few have also volunteered at AVA’s local produce roadshows, and as associate trainers in the MasterGrower programme itself. To continuously upgrade our MasterGrowers’ skills, a series of half-day courses are provided for our volunteer trainers and MasterGrowers. Such masterclasses are conducted twice a year. To date, the programme has benefited more than 75 community gardens around Singapore, and more than 300 MasterGrowers have been trained.
The MasterGrower is also an advocate for local produce, helping to raise awareness of the importance of local produce to Singapore's food security. Through our MasterGrowers, AVA also aims to foster an appreciation of the efforts farmers put into producing food for us, and thereby encourage the community to learn to cherish and not waste food. In addition, we take this opportunity to spread important messages on food safety and encourage gardening without the use of pesticides.
Training was previously conducted at AVA's Horticulture Services Centre in Sembawang, with a 10-sqm planting ground that yielded more than 60kg of leafy vegetables to-date. From 2017, in order to further raise awareness of the programme and reach out to more community gardeners, AVA began collaborating with the National Parks Board (NParks) to hold the MasterGrower sessions at HortPark.
Over the past year, AVA and MasterGrowers have been active in the following events and initiatives:
Community Edibles Competition
NParks conducted a Community Edibles competition on 3 November 2017. AVA supported the event by sponsoring seeds of various edibles such as white bitter gourd, high-yield long bean, sweet Hawaiian papaya, and orange flesh sweet melon, which were specially chosen for their abilities to grow well in Singapore’s tropical climate. Our MasterGrowers also gave a series of ‘How-to-Grow’ talks during ‘NParks Gardeners-Days-Out’ between May and October 2017.
Sembawang GRC's NS50 event
AVA has been working with the community gardeners in Sembawang GRC to guide them in growing vegetables and spices. These crops were part of the ingredients used to prepare food for an event in October 2017 that commemorated the 50th anniversary of National Service (NS). Guests were invited to lunch with Members of Parliament (MPs) for Sembawang GRC, such as Minister of Transport Mr Khaw Boon Wan and Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung.
Sembawang GRC MPs at the NS50 event featuring produce from community gardens. (Photo: Sembawang Town Council)
Setting up community gardens
As part of its vocational training curriculum, the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore’s (MINDS) Idea Employment Development Centre requested AVA’s assistance to customise a farming module/training programme for its clients and facilitate the training conducted by MasterGrower volunteers at its premises. With AVA’s guidance, MINDS constructed a 50-sqm greenhouse at one of its premises in March 2017. The greenhouse, which uses a convenient tray planting system, can consistently produce about 70kg of leafy vegetable per crop cycle. The produce is used in MINDS’ central kitchen, and there are plans to develop more of such greenhouses.
(Image left): With AVA’s help, MINDS now has in place a tray planting system that can consistently produce about 70kg of leafy vegetable per crop cycle. (Image right): MINDS’ community greenhouse with automatic irrigation systems.
A training session on how to grow vegetable seedling for transplanting, at Ng Teng Fong General Hospital’s community edibles garden.
We also collaborated with Ng Teng Fong General Hospital to develop a community edibles garden for the hospital's volunteers to conduct activities and for patients to relax in. AVA guided the volunterrs on how to grow leafy vegetables, and trained four MasterGrowers for this garden.
Sharing technical expertise
AVA developed a low-cost, vertical, leafy vegetable planting system for Ang Mo Kio-Teck Ghee GRC’s community garden pilot trial, which began in November 2017. Made with common materials such as a recycled shoe rack, this system increases the amount of planting space, and beautifies the fences around the community garden.
Between June and September 2017, AVA also helped the Hindu Endowments Board-Ashram Halfway House in Sembawang to develop a planting schedule and train some of its staff for its garden.
AVA officers (in orange) sharing with President of Singapore Mdm Halimah Yacob, the work that has gone into the HEB-Ashram Halfway House's community garden.
Community gardeners who are interested in the MasterGrower programme or wish to find out about our technical advisory services can contact AVA via https://csp.sfa.gov.sg/feedback or reach out to their NParks community garden manager.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020