Singapore has long been known as a ‘garden city’, thanks to the lush tropical greenery lining her streets. So it’s only natural that during almost two months of lockdown – known locally as the ‘circuit breaker’ – a desire has been growing to bring a piece of the outdoors indoors.
A new surge of Singaporeans have picked up their rusty gardening tools and started growing vegetables and fruits at home – more often than not, in small, high-rise apartments. And it’s not just for the sheer satisfaction of getting green-fingered.
Joanna Chuah (pictured above) is the founder of WWEdibles, a small business selling her home-grown produce. She says that lockdown provided the ideal reason for Singaporeans stuck at home to switch to edible plants. “During ‘circuit breaker’, you couldn’t go out and buy ornamental plants like monsteras and alocasias, because you need to get them from specific nurseries,” she explains. “But you can easily grow edible produce from seeds.”
Brian Thian (pictured below) is another local gardener who has been helping educate Singaporeans about tropical flora through his Instagram page, @briansgardenadventures. “There’s been a lot of interest and enthusiasm on growing produce at home, but not a lot of proper guidance,” he says. “Gardening can be challenging in Singapore, and it can be disheartening to put in all that effort and have your plants die on you.”
We spoke to both urban gardeners to find out more about the growing trend and the motivations behind it, which are more deep-rooted than you might expect.