A family tree is more than just an abstract concept to Candy Huang, her husband Bill Jia and their family. For the Jias, their “family tree” refers to an actual tree sapling they planted in the ground at Woodlands Waterfront Park in June this year.

That’s because the close-knit family – together with grandparents – participated in FamilyTrees, a joint initiative by the National Parks Board and Families for Life, that offers Singaporean families the opportunity to commemorate their child’s birth by planting a tree. Part of the OneMillionTrees movement, the tree planting project is a symbolic way to celebrate family bonds, as well as a meaningful way for families to contribute to creating a greener, more sustainable Singapore together.

Candy, who works in sales, is mum to three kids – 3-year-old Lucas, 2-year-old Jessica and a month-old baby Monica. When she heard about the initiative from friends, the purpose behind the project resonated with her. “It was a great opportunity to build a bond with my kids and let them experience and embrace nature”, she said.

FamilyTrees Interview Candy 01 

A natural way to bond

For Candy and her engineer husband Bill, planting trees is almost a family legacy. Growing up, they participated in tree planting activities on Arbour Day together with their families. Arbour Day, or Tree Day, is a holiday observed around the world that celebrates the planting, upkeep and preservation of trees as a way to honour nature and the environment. So, when Bill and Candy discovered FamilyTrees, it brought back fond memories of their childhood. The couple were keen to pass on this informal family tradition to their three kids, especially their firstborn, Lucas.

Candy shared, “We wanted to encourage Lucas to join in the tree planting session. We feel that the activity will not only help build his motor skills, but he will also get to experience working in a team with others”. Even little Jessica joined in the fun and took part in the photo op with her family at the end of the session.

In addition to the sapling they planted in Woodlands, the Jias have also planted a coconut tree at the community garden in their current HDB neighbourhood so that Lucas can help care for it after school every day and watch it grow. The pair hope to eventually plant three trees – one for each child – when they move into their new BTO in Punggol in 2024.

FamilyTrees Interview Candy 02 

Nurturing the next generation

When asked for tips on how to make the experience a good one for other families, Candy suggested that it would be even more meaningful if they can tag each tree with the name of the family who planted it. And for families who are keen to participate in the event, she had some practical advice: “Try to wear bright matching tops, so that you will look good when taking pictures. Easy-to-wash shoes are also a good idea, since sometimes the ground will be muddy in wet weather”.

As the Chinese saying goes: One generation plants the trees so that the next can enjoy its shade ( 前人种树后人乘凉 ), the planting of trees is symbolic of one generation laying the foundations for the future generations to come. In the same way, the foundation of a successful, thriving community starts from nurturing strong families. As Candy put it, “Family is loving and supporting one another even when it's not easy to do so”.

FamilyTrees Interview Candy 03