In 2016, EGC was contacted by case workers reporting high levels of depression and social isolation in York Hill estate – a poor neighborhood of single-room flats whose residents are mostly elderly males. The case workers were interested in whether urban farming activities could bring residents out of their homes and improve their emotional well-being. Over six weeks, EGC developed the Ah Gong Farm at the York Hill family service centre where they taught residents gardening skills. There was clear evidence of positive psychological and social impact from the urban farming activities.
Co-founder Bjorn Low describes the transformation he witnessed in the 6-week programme, “At the start, we had residents who always stayed silent but would still come to the garden every day to water the plants. Slowly, but surely, those same residents would start to talk to the plants, talk to the other residents, and just a month later, we found them smiling and chatting and laughing with others in the garden. These community gardens truly give a new lease of life to people.”
The success of Ah Gong Farm led to more commissions for EGC to organise more therapeutic horticulture programs with other vulnerable demographics, such as patients recovering from stroke at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) Rehabilitation Centre in 2021, and young adults with learning challenges at Rainbow Centre in 2021.