A ferocious morning sun beats down on the Sky Sprouts rooftop garden in Bukit Timah, a lush, upscale residential area deep in central Singapore. Farmer Benjamin Ang enters his greenhouse, followed by his beloved Shetland sheepdog Natsuki. He reaches down to pluck a beefsteak tomato and offers it up to us. One bite yields tart, juicy goodness.
“In our culture, meat is always considered to be superior, but every plant has its own strength and story,” says the 34-year-old founder of specialty fruit and vegetable producer Natsuki’s Garden. “My hope is that my produce can inspire emotions… nourish the soul as much as the body.”
Armed with a degree in horticultural sciences, Farmer Ben – as he’s known – has also worked at Singapore’s National Parks Board for six years and has experience as a horticulture consultant. It’s no surprise that he has gained something of a reputation locally and internationally as an innovator in urban sustainable farming.
An avid tinkerer, he codes his own electronic controls. He also uses 3D modeling and printing to make custom components for his cutting-edge farming equipment. Realizing that most traditional horticultural structures are designed for temperate climates, he created an innovative V-shaped roof for his garden’s greenhouses, which allows hot air to escape quickly and maintains ideal temperatures in Singapore’s tropical heat.
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