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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Jun 1, 2010

Mango Season in Tampines

Harvesting mango using a pole...

...using an improvised "mango net" (modified version of fishing net).

...using a "net trampoline"

"Love of Labour" rewards of freshly picked mangoes in these pails.

Mr Tan Teng Chuan (left) and Mr Liew Chee Fun (right) with a photo taken last year with an abundant mango harvest.

As I was passing one morning last week and walking towards Tampines Central, I found a group of residents below a tree with lots of mango. The tree was beside Blk 156, Tampines Street 12, Singapore.

Its time for mango season in Tampines.

While some people are wilting during the current hot, dry spell, these residents were plucking mangoes from the roadside trees, with poles, nets and pails in the view of the public as seen in this blog.

I stood watching and wondering who were the owners of these mango trees. Are other people allowed to pluck the mango by whoever they like? These mangoes at the nearby fruit stalls are sold at about $1.00 each, not cheap. I was told that picking mango and other fruits or plants and trees in public roads without permission of the National Park Board and relevant authorities is an offence.

However, it would be such a waste for the mangoes to be unattended and ripe and rot to fall from the trees, and be fed to the birds.

A few of the residents in the group glanced a side look at me with suspicion. I should be left alone to mind other people's business; and should not be impolite as a passerby. It was nothing of my affairs and matters to interfere with everybody's concern all and sundry.

Being curious, I decided to express my intention politely and approached one of the ladies, Ms Agnes Ang. She was helping to collect mangoes filled them in the pails while most of the menfolks were busy harvesting the mangoes.

I then understood that the residents are volunteers of Tampines Green and members of the Tampines Green Residents Committee, and are authorised to pluck the mangoes for distribution to our residents and members of The Green Garden.

The Green Garden was just a few blocks away from the mango tree I mentioned. The garden plot was surrounded by tall trees and plants, somewhat obscurely from the main road beside Blk 160, Tampines Street 12, Singapore.

Ms Agnes Ang, a friendly resident, then guided me the direction to The Green Garden. As we talk and walk, Agnes told me that the fruits collected during mango season are distributed to the residents and members of The Green Garden, a self-help group of volunteers who regularly maintain the mango trees. Most of the mango trees are over 10 years and harvesting twice a year. The rewards of their "love of labour" are supported by the residents with their social responsibilities as a community and neigbourhood to take care of public properties for our benefits.

What a surprise indeed. It was an eye-opener continuous learning observations to educate so many useful things around us. I didn't know before of a heartland community of garden enthusiasts and active Green Garden members. Most of them are senior citizens who are retired or homemakers, including the younger ones.

Agnes Ang showing me a whole tree of pomeloes.

The entrance to The Green Garden (绿苑乐园)

A decorative signboard of The Green Garden (绿苑乐园)

At The Green Garden, I was introduced to Mr Tan Teng Chuan, Chairman and Mr Liew Chee Fun, Team Leader of The Green Garden.

For their kind hospitality on a tour of the The Green Garden, I learnt new things on meaningful and worthwhile activities and hobby of residents with green fingers. Its educational and informative for young and old.

This small garden is an inconspicuous plot of land in the housing estate surrounded by HDB blocks has over 300 plants in its collection, comprising fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables. This is probably the only garden in Singapore where you can find rice plants, dragon fruits and grapes hanging from trees, right in the middle of an HDB housing estate.

The plants have been carefully labelled, providing a learning opportunity for visitors. It is no wonder that neighbourhood schools have also chosen this garden as one of the venues for educational tours organised for their students. Other visitors include grassroots organisations from other constituencies.

Announcement of garden sharing session placed on the tiny shed.

The Residents Committee has also taken the effort to organise monthly sharing sessions where volunteers share gardening tips with participants. These sessions have attracted both Tampines residents and non-residents alike. With its barrier-free access feature, even those on wheelchairs can get to tour The Green Garden.

Its amazing that in scarce-land Singapore, a little corner in our heartland could give our residents as a garden community for the space and time to have fun, satisfaction and enjoyment with special interest.

The Green Garden is open daily from 8:30 am to 9:10 am and 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm.

Please contact Mr Tan Teng Chuan at Mobile No: 97865115 in advance for group visits to The Green Garden.

Calabash Gourd (葫芦瓜)

Wild Ginseng (野人参)

Bunch of green grapes (葡萄)

Winter Melon (冬瓜)

Passion Fruits (百香果)

Passion Walk (百香小道)

Mr Liew highlighted me a warning to keep away the bees...but no birds though.

I remember that when I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee kampung as a young boy in the 1960s, my mother used to plant chillie, bitter-gourd, tomatoes and also balsam flowers outside the house. Using clay pots and home-made small wooden racks. Whenever these small plants are ripe, we could have self-sufficient supplement food for our meals as a small family. It was my mother's favorite hobby...watering and fertilising the plants until their natural, fresh food from our labour with love, tender and patience are ready to serve. To cultivate and nurture the plants grow and healthy, watching a sense of satisfaction. Although it doesn't save very much money to buy from the market, we had the convenience to add flavour to mother's home cooking meals with instant chillie at our doorstep. It brought me fond memories of childhood.

It is heartened to know that the small plot of land provided by the HDB and Residents Committee to The Green Garden for community activities, gardening experiment, learning and pleasure to overcome public spaces due to land constraint in the heartland.



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