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Interfaith leaders learn about food sustainability by setting up farm in S'pore school

The Straits Times | 11 September 2021

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (second from left) at the launch of the Faiths@Work Demo Farm at the Canossian School on Sept 10, 2021.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - A farm with climate-resilient and easy-to-grow crops such as guava, wing beans, yam and brinjal has been set up at the Canossian School to raise awareness of regional food sustainability across South-east Asian nations.

The Faiths @ Work Demo Farm at the special education school near MacPherson Road was completed by 18 interfaith leaders and practitioners from the region who are based in Singapore.

Speaking at the launch on Friday (Sept 10), Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the project not only demonstrates how different types of climate-resilient crops can be grown in the region, it also brought together people across faiths, and from around the region.

"(The farm) is a real demonstration of the impact that can be achieved when people come together for a common purpose and the common good," added Mr Tharman, who is the Coordinating Minister for Social Policies.

The project is part of the Temasek Foundation - Humanity Matters Faiths @ Work Regional Humanitarian Interfaith programme.

Mr Tharman said that the farm also contributes to broader sustainability efforts, to grow community gardening and urban farming in Singapore.

But the intangible value of the programme is in how Humanity Matters and its partners have brought people together, he added.

"It is community action like this that develop harmonious ties across religions or nations. Such ties are not forged by nice platitudes, but in the doing and shared experiences," said Mr Tharman.

One of the participants, Friar Aiden Peter Jr Sunyu, said that while he has been involved in previous interfaith programmes, Faiths @ Work is different.

It allows participants to get involved in a hands-on project together rather than just engaging in dialogue.

"This is different, this has become more than just a dialogue... not only (do we) learn to communicate and understand each other's point of view, but also now it's being translated into work," said the 37-year-old who hails from Sabah but has been working in Singapore for 12 years.

Humanity Matters intern Nur Qistina, 19, who helped to organise the programme, said she hoped that as influential figures in their faith communities, the participants will take back lessons on sustainability to their communities.

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam (in red) hosted by Ambassador Ong Keng Yong, chairman of Humanity Matters, at the launch of the farm at Canossian School on Sept 10, 2021. PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

To this end, the participants have put together an e-book showcasing 15 climate-resilient crops.

The e-book will be circulated by Humanity Matters to regional disaster management and rural development agencies.

Canossian School students and volunteers from Di Zang Lin temple will maintain the farm, and open it up to community groups and visitors when the Covid-19 situation stabilises.


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