Singapore aims to grow 30 per cent of the country’s food locally by 2030, and one of the innovative organisations rising to meet this ambitious ‘30 by 30’ challenge is Edible Garden City.
Embracing the permaculture philosophy of ‘the problem is the solution’, Edible Garden City’s 'Citizen Farm' project is turning obstacles into opportunities by farming in under-utilised spaces around the city, such as rooftops, instead of on the limited amount of expensive agricultural land.
Known as ‘The Garden City’, Singapore is already a pioneer in urban landscaping, with plentiful greenery found amongst the skyscrapers. In addition to rooftop farming, Edible Garden City is encouraging schools, businesses and hotels to convert existing green spaces on their grounds into food-producing paradises.
As well as the clear financial benefits of locally-grown food, the environmental impact of importing less food includes reduced traffic pollution and a lower carbon footprint. On top of that, Edible Garden City has conducted scientific studies on the effects of gardening, revealing that gardeners have elevated compounds associated with happiness and sleep.
The food grown by Edible Garden City is not limited to common vegetables – it currently extends to more than 50 varieties of edible plants including herbs, flowers, fruits, mushrooms and microgreens. They also champion native and ‘forgotten’ species. This is an intriguing proposition for restaurants and home cooks, who are now able to locally source exotic ingredients, such as pink and golden oyster mushrooms, ulam raja and stinking passionfruit to create unique and appetising dishes.
Less appetising – but equally important – are nature’s recyclers, used to process food waste into fertilizer, creating a holistic closed loop farming system that does not rely on outside inputs. This is the foundation of Edible Garden City’s Citizen Farm project, which is aimed at producing high quality and responsibly-grown produce with minimal waste. The innovative methods for reducing waste include Singapore’s first Black Soldier Fly farm, run by Insectta, where industrious fly larvae process food waste like okara before becoming tasty snacks for farmed fish. Other types of waste recycling adopted include composting and reusing organic material for mulch and soil amendment.
As well as the direct impact from its urban farming projects, Edible Garden City is also inspiring others to grow their own food and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening. It runs farming workshops for companies and schools, even creating a farming curriculum in schools, in the hope its knowledge and passion will seed an interest for growing green things and enjoying the world around us.
Edible Garden City’s ‘Citizen Farm’ is one of the 25 selected projects to be showcased at Expo 2020 Dubai’s Global Best Practice Programme, run under the theme ‘Small Steps, Big Leaps: Simple Solutions for Sustainable Impact’.