SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Edible community gardens to grow vegetables and fruits in migrant worker dormitories will help to supplement the diets of workers, and also provide a therapeutic hobby to improve the mental health of those who are still under strict movement restrictions orders.
Dr Wong Han Teng, lead of the Covid-19 Migrant Support Coalition (CMSC) WeGarden project, said that the pandemic has further increased the reliance of workers on catered food, and the edible gardens will improve their diets with fresh produce.
He said he also hopes for the gardens to be a space of comfort for them.
"Where many of our migrant brothers are from, greenery is everywhere as compared with highly urbanised Singapore. They have a deep connection to nature and often seek out green spaces in Singapore," the 32-year-old research fellow said.
"Dormitories in Singapore are utilitarian in nature and thus we hope that the gardens will help make their surroundings more green," he added.
The edible garden is one of 42 projects that will obtain funding under a new Sprout category of the SG Eco Fund. The grant attracted 110 applications under the new category, and the 42 selected Sprout projects will receive funding of about $280,000 in total.
Other than CMSC's WeGarden, another project that will receive funding is an environmental education programme to train and groom student leaders from primary schools.
The Student Heroes in Environmental Leadership Development (Shield) aims to roll out educational programmes to 10 primary schools as part of a pilot programme to inspire and educate the younger generation on environmental issues.
The programme will follow a curriculum from Earth School Singapore, Singapore's first non-profit school for environmental education, with an ecosystem of different organisations and environmentalists.
Cassandra Yip, founder and chief executive of Earth School, said that sustainable impact can be achieved only through knowledge, empathy and personal action - areas that begin primarily with education.
The 22-year-old third-year environmental studies undergraduate at the National University of Singapore also said that tapping on children's creativity and imaginative nature can lead to environmental solutions.
"Who knows, the solution to ameliorate the climate crisis may be in one or more of these children," she added.
Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment, said: "I'm heartened by the continued positive response to the SG Eco Fund. All of us can play a part in co-creating solutions to help realise the Singapore Green Plan 2030.
"Through the new Sprout category under the SG Eco Fund, we hope to empower more individuals and community groups to take ownership of the environment. No effort or idea is too small, and I encourage more people to come forward and apply for the fund," she added.
The $50 million SG Eco Fund was launched in November last year by the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment to support ground-up projects that advance environmental sustainability in Singapore, such as climate change and waste reduction.