Urban farming has become quite a bit more than a fad or innovation showcase for our garden city. In more and more cities around the globe, urban farming strategies are bringing agriculture back into the city – and bringing us all closer to what lands on our plates every day.
Weaving food growing into the fabric of urban life could bring greenery and wildlife closer to home. The COVID-19 lockdown helped re-awaken interest in growing at home, but many households have no access to a garden. If we want to continue to feed people using farms in the places where most people live – in cities – we need to find the space for them. Thankfully, the opportunities for urban farming extend beyond these: rooftops, walls – and even under-utilised spaces such as old school buildings, offer a range of options for expanding food production in our city while creatively redeveloping the urban environment. Getting out into nature and gardening can improve one's mental health and physical fitness. Many research studies suggest that getting involved in urban food growing, or just being exposed to it in our daily lives, may also lead to healthier diets.
City Sprouts is a social enterprise that aims to “rejuvenate urban communities and sprout meaningful multi-generational relationships”. Its urban farm Sprout Hub is located in the heart of Redhill, situated at the former Henderson Secondary School which has been transformed into an urban farm and social space. City Sprouts uses urban agriculture as its backbone cultivating a place for urban rejuvenation, community and sustainable living. Interestingly here, you find a community transposed into a place with abundance of food and greenery in the midst of the surrounding high-rise residential and commercial buildings.
Many of us city dwellers are starved for nature, and urban farming brings it back in a big way. The benefits: connecting with nature is good for us. Growing food in your city gets you moving, and gets your hands in the dirt, which is shown to have therapeutic benefits.
Successful farms and gardens are those that are able to provide suitable spaces and times for these actions so that people can enjoy multiple benefit streams. These benefits are largely universal: make strong connections with the land, the farmers and other people, even in cases where they rarely visit the farms and gardens. This suggests that farming and gardening initiatives possess multi-dimensional transformational potential. Not only do they offer a buffer against industrialised and remote food systems, but they also represent therapeutic landscapes valued by those who have experienced time spent at or in connection with them.
You might notice rows of green houses on your way up towards the establishment.
It is a rare sight to catch hold of farms against the backdrop of the sky rise buildings in Singapore.
There are several benefits to having our farms so close to home. Through community gardens or access to commercial-scale farm produce, the public have an opportunity to understand how food is grown.
Walking around, you'll find greenhouses owned by both aspiring urban farmers and experienced farming enthusiasts, who can invest in a vegetable plot here and choose what they want to plant with helpful guidance from the farmers.
These are considered as ground-based outdoor urban agriculture is particularly common in places with large amounts of vacant land. Production practices include growing in-ground in the native soil, on the ground in imported soil or growing media, in raised beds or containers, and in high tunnels or hoop houses which are used to extend the growing season and protect the crops from extreme rain events. Most ground-based urban agriculture is used for diversified vegetable production, but some urban farms grow perennial fruits, and a subset of urban farms specialize in cut flower production.
Search notice for a missing rooster named "KFC" - If anyone can find KFC, you'll get a bag of salad as a form of reward.
Nestled in City Sprouts is a Wayang Pavilion which named it as "Myths On a Red Hill" which reimagines the Wayang stage as an open classroom and arts space that brings together the community through storytelling and creative modes of exchange.
Sprout Hub sits at the school’s old multi-purpose hall building, where the canteen grounds reside on the ground floor.
The place opened in February 2020, but didn’t see much fanfare till they reopened for business after the COVID-19 circuit breaker period. The dining area comprises of a mix of tall and sit-down tables in a non-air-conditioned environment with lots of open ventilation. Even the toilet exteriors are themed. The place is pet-friendly too.
The seeds of enthusiasm for home-grown food may have been sown, but sustaining this is essential. Urban farming has much to offer in the wake of the pandemic. It could help communities boost the resilience of their fresh fruit and vegetable supplies, improve the health of residents and help them lead more sustainable lifestyles.
Urban farming has taken the nation by storm and I couldn’t be happier. COVID-19 has given us cause to re-evaluate how important local urban green spaces are to us, and what we want from our high streets, parks and pavements. The opportunity is there for urban planners and developers to consider what bringing farming to urban landscapes could offer. From putting food justice back in the hands of the people to transforming blighted urban landscapes, farming the city is the way of the future.