One million native plants in South West District? Job done!
Retiree May Lee took up gardening after her doctor told her to spend more time in the sun for Vitamin D following a bout of meningitis in 2012.
What started as recuperation blossomed into a hobby.
Today, the 62-year-old, who used to run an optical shop, leads a team of more than 20 gardeners and tends to three flourishing community gardens over 20,000 sq ft next to Block 106 Bukit Batok Central.
Cosy Garden, the largest, has a koi pond, turtle pond and unique crops such as asparagus and Brazilian grape trees, mainly for educational purposes, as kids from nearby childcare centres visit it often.
The other two gardens are home to edible plants such as vegetables and herbs, and over 30 types of fruit trees including cempedak and mangosteen, whose fruits are distributed among the residents and underprivileged.
Madam Lee said: "The neighbours help to look out for the gardens and remind others to not pluck fruits and vegetables before they are ripe so children can look at them and we can harvest when the time comes."
The gardens are some of the fruits of labour of 1,000,000 Native Plants @ South West - a 10-year initiative started in 2008 by the South West Community Development Council and National Parks Board to plant one million native plants in the district.
Today, there are more than one million native plants across 152 community gardens, tended to by over 3,000 volunteers, including 300 garden leaders like Madam Lee.
She said the biggest joy of community gardening is seeing the kampung spirit come alive.
"In the day, seniors and children come for a walk, and in the evening, young couples bring their kids down after work to play. The volunteers also come as and when they can and we all contribute," she said.
Yesterday, the programme was concluded and rebranded as Green Spaces @ South West, which focuses on creating an inclusive and active community through gardening.
To coincide with its launch, a 30m linear garden was set up in the open space next to Block 458 Jurong West Street 41.
The barrier-free garden is accessible to all, with child- and wheelchair-friendly planter boxes built at a lower height. Nearby are planter boxes at chest and eye levels for elderly gardeners so they do not have to bend over to tend to the plants.