“Ah… the good old days. When I was younger, Singapore used to have our own farms. Now, everything has to be imported, even our food!”
“But Ah Ma… Singapore does have our own farms.”
“But how? We don’t even have enough space!”
Which is why we have to get creative, and that’s exactly what Citiponics did.
Citiponics Pte. Ltd. is a local agricultural startup which aims to grow organic leafy greens in tight urban spaces sustainably.
In particular, they specialise in vertical and rooftop farms. Their sustainable farms have taken root in Singapore, Malaysia and China.
Citiponics @ Ang Mo Kio
Citiponics began planting vegetables at their latest big project, Citiponics Farm @ Ang Mo Kio last month.
Within weeks, the farm, which is situated on an HDB multi-storey car park at Block 700 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6, is expected to produce enough to feed 1,600 Singaporeans a month.
Yeah, we’re literally talking about a farm atop an HDB.
How Does it Work?
Citiponics @ Ang Mo Kio uses Citiponic’s core technology, the Aqua-Organic System (AOS).
In the AOS, veggies are grown on lightweight frames that allow a lot of them to be grown in a small space. A constant stream of water and nutrients are fed to the vegetables through a series of pipes. The nutrients are carefully calibrated, which ensures minimum waste.
The pipes Citiponics uses have holes cut into them, creating pockets, which are filled with tiny clay pebbles, the growing medium used for the plants. Seeds are placed among the pebbles.
All produce from the AOS system are certified pesticide-free…though we can’t confirm if a pest like BuffLord95 would go up to the roof and steal some vegetables #justsaying
Is it the Same as Hydroponics?
Although both the AOS and hydroponics are soil-free farming methods, Citiponics uses 1/10th of the water hydroponics uses.
Also, the water in the AOS is constantly in motion, compared to the stagnant water in hydroponics. Hence, mosquitoes won’t be a problem here.
What Veggies Are We Talking About?
Citiponics @ Ang Mo Kio is expected to grow up to 25 different kinds of vegetables, including cai xin, nai bai and kai lan.
The farm will hire locals, including elderly residents from the AWWA Senior Community Home and student interns and volunteers.
As these vegetables are grown in Singapore by Singaporeans, their carbon footprint will be significantly lower than that of imported produce. Their first harvest is expected to be ready in April 2019.
The vegetables grown at the farm will be sold at the nearby Ang Mo Kio Hub’s Fairprice.
So if you want a taste of homegrown veggies, head over there from next month onwards!
Why Urban Farming?
Obviously, Urban farming allows for crowded cities like Singapore to grow their own crops sustainably. As cities have less pests and other insects, urban farming usually requires little or no pesticides.
This is great news, as organic produce have been shown to have higher levels of nutrients such as antioxidants. Also, I don’t know about you, but I know for sure that I’d feel a lot better knowing my food didn’t have those chemicals in them.
As the produce is grown right in the city, urban farming’s small foot miles and carbon footprint leaves less of a negative impact on the environment as compared to imported goods.
Aesthetically wise, urban farming brings pockets of nature back into cities in a functional, sustainable way. I mean, isn’t the photo above just beautiful?
“I love this! Are there any other similar initiatives?”
Yup, there are.
If Citiponics isn’t enough for you, there are a few other urban farming groups in Singapore who have taken it upon themselves to provide us with quality local produce in a sustainable way.
Here are a few of them:
Ground-Up Initiative (GUI)
GUI is a non-profit community based at their Kampung Kampus in the
infamous Yishun. They specialise in hands-on, natural, soil-based organic farming aimed at connecting people with the land and their food.
Volunteers can opt to help maintain the Kampung space or get their hands dirty with a go at farming.
Edible Garden City
Edible Garden City champions the grow-your-own-food movement. They build food gardens all over Singapore in under-utilised spaces like viaducts and rooftops.
They conduct farming workshops for schools and companies as well as tours and volunteer sessions.
Comcrop is dedicated to growing fresh, organic vegetables and herbs that are delivered the same day they’re harvested.
They, too, offer corporate and school tours, farm tours and volunteering sessions.
All the Creative Ways Cities Grow Their Own Veggies
Besides Kampungs, the AOS and hydroponics systems, cities around the world have been coming up with increasingly creative ways to grow their own crops.
Take a look at these impressive ones:
Berlin: Prinzessinnen Garten
In Berlin, hundreds of volunteers banded together to transform an urban wasteland into a sprawling farm and garden cafe. Looks Instagram-worthy as well, right?
London: Growing Underground
Singapore grows its veggies from the roof, but in London, they’ve gone the other direction. In 2015, crowdfunding managed to turn an abandoned WW2 air raid bunker into an underground urban farm.
Pretty neat, huh?
Now, what say you to some HDB veggies?
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