Gardening is in the DNA of Singapore - a “Garden City”. When 3Pumpkins was invited to respond to the theme of natural heritage for Heritage Festival 2022, we were curious to find out the values and priorities of home gardeners through the plants they grow.
Over a 3-month process, we conducted interviews with 15 residents in Boon Lay Drive to find out more. We were excited to discover a full range of stories that came up: from helping incarcerated neighbours, recovering from strokes, providing the neighbourhood leaves for prayers, generating a second income, researching on plant specimens to pass time during the pandemic, to comforting deep pain from the loss of family members. These narratives span across emotional, mental and physical to spiritual health, pointing towards a common value of sayang (care) for the gardeners themselves and for others.
As with all 3Pumpkins’ projects, we strongly value a sustainable practice of knowledge generation and transmission within the community while seeking answers to our question. The idea of building a community children garden ground-up together with permaculturists, residents, local businesses was thus born. With the blessing of stakeholders such as NParks and Boon Lay Zone C RN, we were entrusted an allotment garden for 2 years not just to cultivate plants, but to transmit the rich stories of our residents and cultivate the values of care, patience, neighbourliness, and kindness.
How does the community sayang themselves and each other
with the plants they grow at home?
Rasa sayang, hey!
Rasa sayang sayang, hey!
Hey, lihat nona jauh,
Rasa sayang sayang, hey!
Buah cempedak di luar pagar,
Ambil galah tolong jolokkan;
Saya budak baru belajar,
Kalau salah tolong tunjukkan.
Pulau pandan jauh ke tengah,
Gunung daik bercabang tiga;
Hancur badan di kandung tanah,
Budi yang baik dikenang juga.
Dua tiga kucing berlari,
Mana sama si kucing belang;
Dua tiga boleh ku cari,
Mana sama adik seorang.
Pisang emas dibawa berlayar,
Masak sebiji di atas peti;
Hutang emas boleh dibayar,
Hutang budi dibawa mati.
I feel love, hey!
I feel love, love, hey!
Hey, see that girl over there,
I feel love, hey!
The jackfruit* is outside the fence,
Take a pole and gently knock it down;
I am a newbie so
If I'm doing it wrong, please show me how.
Pandan Island is far from land,
Mount Daik has three peaks;
Though the body rots in the earth,
Good deeds are always remembered.
Two or three cats run around,
The striped one is superior;
I can easily find two or three girls,
But none can compare with you.
Brought gold bananas on a sailing trip,
One ripens on a chest;
Gold owed can be repaid,
But debts of gratitude are carried to the grave.
Lyrics from: https://www.mamalisa.com/?t=es&p=5203
Rasa Sayang is a widely known and well-loved Malay folksong.
The garden is named after the song as it connects different generations through its timeless tune and playful pantun (poems). Most importantly, the song embodies the values we would love to cultivate in the garden and is great to sing to while gardening! In response to our findings on how the residents take care of themselves and each other through the plants they grow, permaculturist Nova Nelson from Cultivate Central has also curated the garden to these 5 categories: Sayang our mind, Sayang our heart, Sayang our spirit, Sayang our body, Sayang our soil, Sayang our past, Sayang our future.
Permaculture plans for Kebun Rasa Sayang by Nova C Nelson, Cultivate Central
What can one expect to do in Kebun Rasa Sayang?
Besides occasional guided tours where we will share how the garden acts as a locus of an interdependent eco-system, we are also developing community garden routines every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday where residents can bring their children to participate in gardening activities including watering, weeding, pruning, harvesting, and composting. Little ones would be delighted to see creative installations created by artist Isabelle Desjeux where plant identifications are presented through cyanotypes, fence art created by Cheryl Gan and Stella Cheung, and perhaps to create some of their own art pieces too!
We wish to thank Singapore HeritageFest, especially Mr. David chew and Ms. Malar Rajan, for supporting our community work with the meaningful opportunities. (If you didn’t know, 3Pumpkins participated in Singapore HeritageFest 2021 where we invited 6 children to respond to the theme of food heritage. This Is What We Eat at Home grew to become an important mapping tool for Tak Takut Kids Club to understand and communicate caregiving models and experiences of growing up among the children and youth). Sincere gratitude to Minister Desmond Lee, grassroots leaders and partners from NParks for your trust and support in piloting a child-centric community garden. Last but not least, all the project supporters from 3Pumpkins, Cultivate Central and Boon Lay Community.
Keep coming back to this page as we share more stories of the neighbourhood and the garden!
Stories from Our Dear Children Garden
Fence Mural Artist
Garden Signage Artist
Videographer, Project Assistant
Special Thanks To
Lin Shiyun, 3Pumpkins
Nova Nelson, Cultivate Central
Cheryl Gan and Stella Cheung
Sabrina and Nicholas
Cheryl Gan, 3Pumpkins
Imran Mohamad, 3Pumpkins
Priya Mahesh, Cultivate Central
Jeanette, Cultivate Central
Megan Hon, Volunteer
Aaron Rizqi, Tak Takut Kids Club
Seri Melissa, Tak Takut Kids Club
Safiyya, Tak Takut Kids Club
Chen Yaxuan, Tak Takut Kids Club
Aiysah, Tak Takut Kids Club
Cindy Toh, Tak Takut Kids Club
Zay Lin Htet, Tak Takut Kids Club
Jed Wildan Oshiafi, Tak Takut Kids Club
Minister Desmond Lee, MP for Boon Lay
Kai Wen, Monique, and David, Boon Lay Zone C RC
Jason and Kwee Yong, People’s Association
Hengster, Boon Lay View RN
Zhong Zhi and Siew Ngim, NPARKS
Candyce and Jakir, West Coast Town Council
Salim Provision Shop, Local Economy
Ah Xiong Coffeeshop, Local Economy