Hougang neighborhood garden, 30-year home to flowers and veggies, uprooted again

At left, the neighborhood garden before being removed, and workers plowing it yesterday morning, at right. Photos: Fang Shihan/Facebook
At left, the neighborhood garden before being removed, and workers plowing it yesterday morning, at right. Photos: Fang Shihan/Facebook

Elderly gardeners in Hougang bid a sad farewell to their neighborhood garden of over three decades yesterday after the authorities intervened, saying it was a safety risk and obstruction. 

The nearly 100-meter plot of flowers and vegetables such as okra, sugarcane and Chinese broccoli were stripped away by workers yesterday morning after national water agency PUB and Ang Mo Kio Town Council weighed in with their objections. Garden admirer Fang Shihan, 35, said that her own nearby garden’s days were numbered.

“They catch their side first, and now they are coming for mine in a couple of days’ time,” Fang told Coconuts today.

Fang, who found the now-barren garden at Block 544 Hougang Avenue 6 while jogging around the area, said its gardeners were grieving the loss of their bountiful crops. The Chinese broccoli, or kailan, was just two weeks from being ready for harvest. 

“The landscaping contractors came for the Blk 544 garden this morning,” Fang wrote online.

“The elderly residents who’ve been maintaining the area with love and care are saddened by the removal. And even sadder that they have to bear witness to the [out of bounds] marker outside their homes.” 

The landscaping contractors came for the Blk 544 garden this morning. Early, before 9am. What’s left of it now are…

Posted by Fang Shihan on Thursday, 18 March 2021

A sign put up by PUB, which is in charge of overseeing Singapore’s drainage system, ordered the removal of the flowers, which included roselles, growing near a drainage canal, so that maintenance work could be carried out without obstruction. 

Another notice by the Ang Mo Kio Town Council, which manages the estate, said that the garden posed a “public and environmental safety” hazard by affecting “existing plants and the integrity of the soil.” 

PUB had no further comment to add while the town council has yet to respond to Coconuts’ queries.

According to Fang, several plants including 30-year-old starfruit trees were also chopped down back in October after gardeners were told that the space was needed for “infrastructure development.” Several months later, and with no signs of construction, the soil was left exposed. So the gardeners decided to plant again, only to see the fruits of their labor removed yesterday.

“What’s left of it now are patches of exposed soil. Some may have been washed down the slope by the afternoon shower. Ironic. Considering the original intention of the removal was to preserve the integrity of the soil,” she wrote. 

Another beautiful garden at Blk 544 Hougang Ave 6. To be chopped down either today or tomorrow.

This garden is…

Posted by Fang Shihan on Tuesday, 16 March 2021

At Blk 544 now and the clearing has started. Goodbye garden! 😢

Posted by Fang Shihan on Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Editor’s note: After this story was published, PUB clarified that they had no comment to add to this story and preferred to be referred to as PUB instead of the Public Utilities Board, which the acronym stands for.

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