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Gardening for Good

The eminent philosopher Marcus Cicero said it well some 2,000 years ago: “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

This saying has found a modern-day embodiment in the new NUS community garden, Our Garden at the Forum. Situated behind the Central Forum, the garden is, serendipitously, just next to the Central Library. Officially opened on 17 January, the 100m2 garden has 26 plots that the NUS community can cultivate – interested gardeners can either sign up to take care of a dedicated plot for a fixed period, or garden in the free plots anytime. Each plot is home to a mix of herbs and vegetables – from brinjal to basil – and even a few unexpected guests peeking through the leaves: a gnome here, a Spiderman there. Further personalising the space are two wishing trees, where visitors can write and hang their wishes for NUS, turning the garden into a truly communal space.

 “Many of us spend a lot of our time at our desks. It’s good for us to be able to walk to a place outdoors where we can do something healthy while making friends,” said Professor Erle Lim, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, who was involved in developing this initiative. This garden is part of a larger drive to make the campus greener and more accessible, by University Campus Infrastructure office and the Green Spaces Task Force, which is part of the NUS Sustainability Steering Committee, as well as to encourage the NUS community to get out of the office and connect with each other.

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Mr Foo Tung Mooi, Director, NUS Office of Facilities Management, tries his hand at planting chilli in the new NUS community garden

Besides providing the community a dose of fresh air and sunshine, the garden also offers an additional benefit: eating fresh. At the official opening, there was a cooking demonstration by Chef Anthony Yeoh from the French bistro Summer Hill, who used herbs from the garden to create a wholesome three-course meal. He will be sharing 10 more healthy recipes online that students can easily create in their hostels.

Prof Lim shared that growing herbs and vegetables, and incorporating them into our diet, is something that we could consider doing. “Instead of repeatedly buying products and creating waste, we can grow our own herbs and vegetables, and adopt a more ecologically conscious, green attitude in our lives.” This garden might just be the first step towards that change.

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