Singaporeans' increasing interest in urban farming reflects the urgent need for healthy and sustainably-grown food along with tighter communities where individuals aren’t left to fend for themselves.
The exhilarating experience of living on a self-sufficient farm in Australia where the family managed to source all its needs - energy, water, and food - from its own land with minimal impact on the environment is what inspired Christopher Leow, an urban farmer in Singapore, to follow suit in his native country, a city state that relies heavily on imports. "That was very refreshing, coming from Singapore where energy, food and water are mostly imported, and it gave me a new perspective on how I could live life and bring some of these philosophy and practices about environmental sustainability back home," Leow told.
He went on to join the urban farming company Edible Garden City to launch a sustainable farm where vegetables are cultivated with waste-recycling methods and then sold to local communities. In Leow's mind, the role of growing food became even more essential during the pandemic, which strained the flow of imported food to Singapore. He thus spearheaded the creation of Nutopia, an ungated rooftop garden in the Serangoon district, to provide free food for the local community.
At Nutopia, a team of volunteers grow a variety of crops such as lettuce, corn, eggplant and potatoes, using the agroforestry method in which the soil is covered with trees and shrubs - much like in a rainforest - to create a resilient environment that can live off rainwater. This in turn cuts down on irrigation while spawning a huge biodiversity of insects and birds that facilitate the recycling of nutrients.
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