Singapore has very little commercial primary production. I know there’s a an organic goat milk farm near Kranji and I think there’s a chicken/egg farm somewhere but I’ve yet to see any produce in the supermarket labelled “Product of Singapore” to prove the existence of any other primary production. I’ve also seen ads for Farmer’s Markets but I strongly suspect there’s very little farm produce being sold and would more truthfully be labelled as just a “market”.
But in any country there’s always going to be a certain percentage of green thumbs, although my thumbs are decidedly not green. In fact, they are whatever the opposite of green is. Orange? Anyway…..some people have the urge to grow stuff to eat and with HDB’s not having an abundance of outdoor space Singaporeans can rent a plot. A bit like in Eastenders, where whats-his-name (Arthur?) was always heading “down the allotment”, but hotter.
The first urban garden I came across was in Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West, where there’s a garden divided into plots. On the day I visited there was a group of four women having a break from tending their patches, and I’d have loved to ask them questions but I’m always worried I’ll invade people’s privacy so other than asking if it was OK to wander around I kept to myself. There was lots growing – aloe vera, papaya, and …….. erm…..other green things. See – orange thumbs!
The second urban garden I came across was Green Valley Farm, which is an organic farm just off Sembawang Road. Most of the land they work themselves but there are 23 plots up for adoption and they have a programme where the more experienced gardeners help the new gardeners. The catch is – there’s about a 4 year wait for plots! On this occasion I sucked up my shyness and asked a lady who was working her plot whether she sold what she grew but she said that it was just a hobby. Her husband and her were retired and came down to work in their greenhouse three days a week. Only organic fertiliser can be used and she happily showed us her cabbages, brinjal (eggplant), okra, and honeydew plants. Most of the plots here are incredibly neat and tidy, a couple have water features and one had a feature wall made out of empty beer bottles. The people who rent a plot clearly love what they do and put enormous time and effort into them.
The produce looked incredible, far better than anything I’ve seen in any supermarket in Singapore! Just a pity I have orange thumbs.