A vegetable garden's green view can reduce stress

25 Nov 2022

Lianhe Zaobao, 25 Nov 2022, 菜园绿意可解压 (translation)
The SUTD research team polled 300 residents with the aim of creating a space that promotes mental wellbeing. The art farm was born to help residents relieve their psychological pressure.
Two and a half years ago, after her husband suffered a stroke and became paralysed, Irene Tan (69 years old, a part-time florist) planted fruits and vegetables every day to relieve the psychological stress she faced as a caregiver.
In June this year, she felt that she had gained a lot from participating in the "Mental Health@Pelatok Art Farm" programme, and would recommend the programme to other residents.
The art farm is jointly launched by the Singapore University of Technology and Design’s (SUTD) “Social Urban Lab” (SOULab), Changi General Hospital and SAA Architects. It is located at the park next to Block 162 Simei Road, and aims to bring residents closer to nature and expand their social interaction circle, as well as maintain physical and mental health.
Irene Tan and 40 or 50 residents participated in four sessions to learn how to use recycled materials to create and design different "vegetable beds".
In the process of building the farm, Irene Tan learned how to use an electric drill, how to apply wood sealant and also gained a lot of knowledge about sustainability.
Every morning Irene Tan would go to the farm to water the plants at around 7am. The farm is artistic and therapeutic, she said. “I often worry about my husband's condition. Growing these vegetables diverts my attention and improves my mental wellbeing.”
She said that the unique design of the "vegetable bed" has attracted the interest of many. “We grow kale and Chinese cabbage, and the three harvests we had so far have been shared with the residents.”
In August last year, a team led by Associate Professor Chong Keng Hua from SUTD’s Architecture and Sustainable Design pillar polled 300 residents with the hope of creating a space that would benefit their mental health, and thus the art farm that can alleviate stress was born.
Chong Keng Hua said that the art farm is different from the general neighbourhood vegetable garden. “There are no fences here, and the ownership of the farm plots is not divided among residents. Whoever has time can come and water it. We also welcome the public to visit the farm, or participate in the monthly harvesting activities and dinners, and bring food to share with everyone.”