Clementi Farms

Text by Eugene Tan

A loose collective of resident-farmers and the state land they had been quietly working for nearly 30 years were thrust into the spotlight when they told to clear out. Mediation from the area's MP and the authority's appreciation for their ground-up efforts, however, allowed for a compromise between all parties. The re-tooled community farm still stands today, a symbol of the sites many actors and their actions.

Aerial view of the Clementi Farms in 2013 (Photo credit: Jeanette Ng)

We look at 2012's story surrounding the Clementi Farms through an index from local newspapers.

Grace Chia, Group told to clear out ‘farm’ on state land, The Straits Times, 10 Mar 2012

"For three decades, a group of Clementi residents have tended to a garden in their neighbourhood, coaxing harvest of bittergourd, sweet potato and jackfruit from the soil, mostly for their own dinner tables.

But their “farm” sits on state land.

On Tuesday, they were told by Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to clear out by March 20 – in two weeks.”

Grace Chia, Let’s talk, SLA tells farmers, The Straits Times, 14 Mar 2012

“The SLA which last week issued an eviction notice on the illegal vegetable garden, is now asking these farmers to come forward to discuss the issue.

If they fail to do this by March 20, their vegetable parches, the sheds and other structures there will be cleared”

Letter from M Lukshumayeh, Illegal use of State land for almost 30 years? Today Voices, 16 Mar 2012

“It is puzzling that, despite the illegal use of State land at Clementi Avenue 4 for almost 30 years, the authorities had not acted any earlier till a resident complained about burning leaves a few weeks ago...

...Whatever it may be, the kampung/farm use of the land should be supported and preserved.”

Grace Chia, Clementi farmers need more time: MP, The Straits Times, 17 Mar 2012

“Member of Parliament Sim Ann will ask the SLA for a time extension for farmers told to stop their illegal planting on state land in Clement.”

Letter from Julia Poh Head, Corporate Communications Singapore Land Authority, Action taken over illegal use of state land: SLA, Today Voices, 17 Mar 2012

“The State land near BLK 305 Clementi Avenue 4 was part of the land formerly occupied by Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) which has reverted to the State.

The SLA had recently received feedback from the residents in the vicinity about the frequent burning of branches and leaves, which not only affects the air quality but also poses a potential fire hazard.

Upon inspection, we found that some individuals have not only encroached on State land for their own personal use, but erected illegal structures. Some have fenced up parcels of land and padlocked them for their exclusive use.

The illegal structures include make-shift sheds and a toilet.

SLA officers also found several ponds with stagnant water, which are potential mosquito breeding grounds.

In the interests of the residents living in the area, the Government’s immediate priority is to stop the burning of leaves, and to commence vector control measures.

SLA would also like to emphasize that State land belongs to all Singaporeans. Individuals cannot simply lay claim on State land for their private use.”

Grace Chia, Clementi farmers get 3 months’ respite, 21 Mar 2012

"The SLA has given those farming illegally in Clementi another three months to work out an “acceptable” solution, it said yesterday.

Farmers will be given time to work out a deal with grassroots organisations (GROS) “that is acceptable to SLA and the GROs”, said the agency in a statement.”

Grace Chia, Clementi gardeners get to stay, The Straits Times, 16 May 2012

“Under the compromise, they will get a smaller plot of land and pay $60 a year”

Grace Chia, Clementi state land now a community farm, The Straits Times, 4 Mar 2013

“The Bukit Timah grassroots network stepped in to work with residents, farmers and government agencies.

They came up with a plan for the Bukit Timah citizens’ consultative committee (CCC) to rent the land from the state on a yearly basis for community farming.

Today, users pay $5 a month to use the site’s 30 plots, each 8m by 4m and allocated by ballot to existing and new farmers.

While some structures like the shrine and outhouse had to go, footpaths, lights, water points and a stool shed were added and work was done in late January.”