Urban Farming, Where Passion Meets Business

Urban Farming, Where Passion Meets Business Image by Markus Spiske via Unsplash

Do you fancy the idea of harvesting vegetables and placing them in your salad bowl moments later?  Imagine owning a farm while living in a concrete jungle. 

In a country where most of its people are compelled to live in stacked housing, urban farming is growing in popularity here in Singapore. In recent years, more urban farms have emerged in Singapore. Founder, Ray Green, set up his urban farm, Artisan Green, in a massive industrial building that houses more steel than nature at Mapletree industrial park. Pacific Agro Farm harvests greens in urban spaces that boost healthier benefits (without the use of pesticides!). It markets its very own organic cherry tomatoes, eggplants and even stevia (a plant that is native to South America) through its tagline, “It doesn’t get any fresher than going local.” 

The farm-to-table concept is still a novel idea in our concrete jungle. Given the rising cost of imports, putting our rooftops and highrise corridors to good use might just be a clever trick to pull off. Apart from its initial costs, urban farming is otherwise easy to pick up. Ray spent merely one year reading up, prototyping systems, and growing a batch of vegetables himself just to learn the basics. In an interview with Men’s Folio lifestyle magazine, Ray Green shared, “As I read up more and learnt about the agriculture industry, I felt as if I was able to contribute towards building a product that could eventually be part of the modern food system, and also solving certain issues such as produce quality, freshness and food miles.”

If you mind that food that is imported from other countries will not last as long as homegrown ones, urban farming should allay your fears.  The surprise of spotting mould spots on your Australian carrot or fretting over yellowed cabbage just a few days of tucking it in your fridge can cause great disappointment.  With urban farming, the crops will remain much fresher and tastier when consumed. Vegetables tend to suffer from “soft rot,” which is the result of bacteria attacking their tissue which can lead to undesirable effects on our body.

Female entrepreneurs, Danielle Chan and Jasmine Chua, have also been dedicating much time and effort in developing Singapore’s urban farms. Danielle Chan, who calls herself an ‘urban farmer’, explained that she has always cared deeply about educating people on farming in Singapore to redefine Singaporeans’ relationship with food. Danielle’s interest in urban farming stems from her childhood, when she grew up with most of her produce being farm-to-table and organic, since her mother owned a farm in Malaysia. Her passion for fresh vegetables and fruit led to her green venture.

Interestingly, Jasmine Chua first became enamoured with farming in 2015 while in Japan for a mission trip to work on post-tsunami crisis relief. In 2017, she signed up for a two-day SkillsFuture course on permaculture, which was integral in bettering her understanding of farming. When she returned to Singapore, Chua was connected to EGC through a colleague’s brother, and knew immediately that she wanted to get involved, leading her to accomplish her dreams of becoming an urban farmer. 

In a world that is plagued with new problems, urban farming promotes mental wellness. Studies have shown that with greenery, people tend to be more relaxed. Stress results in a higher tendency of developing high blood pressure and migraine. Being among greenery or growing plants can promote positive effects, reducing susceptibility to stress-induced illnesses.

Image via Instagram @syncedsg

Do you really need to own a lot of land to cultivate edible greens? You will be intrigued to know that it is easier than you think. Synced, a store based in Singapore, sells intelligent planting kits. These kits come with a self-watering tank, calibrated lights, and a companion app which makes planting your very own vegetables a breeze.

Parents who have been fretting over how to educate their young children to stop wasting vegetables can now feel better. With a home farm, children can acquire the concept of appreciation for food. Knowing that food requires a lot of effort to produce might just change their minds before they toss bland vegetables into the bins.

So, the next time you pass by a building, look up and imagine what’s on its roof. No doubt, it could be a patch of green occupants, silently absorbing the sunshine –  and growing. 

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