Farmers' markets being held in heartland and in town

More farmers' markets are taking place in the heartland, organised by the Central Singapore Community Development Council.
More farmers' markets are taking place in the heartland, organised by the Central Singapore Community Development Council.PHOTO: CENTRAL SINGAPORE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL

Once considered a rarity, farmers' markets can easily be found across Singapore these days.

Two markets will take place tomorrow, at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway in Orchard Road and amid Housing Board blocks in Buangkok.

The first two weekends of March will also see the return of two regular farmers' markets - restaurant Open Farm Community's Social Market in Dempsey and the Kranji Countryside Farmers' Market - as well as the monthly Farmers' Market at Loewen Gardens near Dempsey Hill.

These markets are the perfect places for foodies to stock up on organic fruit and vegetables grown here as well as other foodstuff made locally, such as nut butters, freshly baked bread and homemade jams.

The vendors, who are primarily locals or Singapore-based, also sell produce and artisanal goods that are imported, such as olive oils, honey and unique flavours of tea not found in the neighbourhood supermarket here.

  • Upcoming markets

  • Organic-friendly Farmers' Market

    Where: Makan@Jen Terrace, Level 10 Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore, 277 Orchard Road When: Tomorrow, 9.30am to 4pm Admission: Free Info: bit.ly/2lamBsX

    Farmers' Market at Buangkok Green

    Where: Basketball court beside 988 Buangkok Green When: Tomorrow, 3.30 to 7.30pm Admission: Free Info: www.facebook.com/centralsgcdc

    OFC Social Market

    Where: Open Farm Community, 130E Minden Road When: March 4 and 5, 11am to 5pm (2016 documentary My Dharma screening at 7pm) Admission: Free Info: bit.ly/ofcsocialmarket8

    Farmers' Market at Loewen Gardens

    Where: 75E Loewen Gardens When: March 11, 9am to 2pm Admission: Free Info: bit.ly/2kOpfIO

    Kranji Countryside Farmers' Market

    Where: D'Kranji Farm Resort, 10 Neo Tiew Lane 2 When: March 11, noon to 6pm; March 12, 10am to 4pm Admission: Free Info: www.facebook.com/farmersmarketsg

Previously, the scene was dominated by just a few regular markets - the quarterly Kranji Countryside Farmers' Market, the pioneer Farmers' Market at Loewen Gardens and, not forgetting, the permanent gourmet farmers' market, PasarBella in Bukit Timah.

The Kranji Countryside Association, the organiserof the market in Kranji, also holds a yearly mega farmers' market called the Singapore Farm Festival, with more than 50 stalls.

But in the past year, two new fairs have started, including the quarterly Organic-friendly Farmers' Market at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, which is organised by lifestyle events company In Touch Concepts in collaboration with the hotel.

Launched in February last year as a corporate social responsibility initiative by the hotel, the market also gives hotel guests an alternative experience, says Ms Elsa Yue, the hotel's assistant communications manager.

However, the majority of each market's attendees, averaging at 300, are locals, she adds, attributing the number to a growing worldwide movement against industrial food.

More farmers' markets are taking place in the heartland too, thanks to the Central Singapore Community Development Council (CDC).

Since March, it has held fairs at Jalan Besar Community Club, Leng Kee Park and an open field in Bishan.

The CDC says the markets were launched to "bring healthy, organic produce to residents and encourage them to adopt healthy eating habits".

The proliferation of markets is a good thing for vendors too.

Mr Themis Lin, ambassador of home-grown fish farm Kuhlbarra, which rears barramundi, says participating in these markets enables it to not only gain market presence, but also educate the public.

"(We can) share about sustainable and ethical aquaculture and make known to the public that fresh, antibiotic- and hormone-free barramundi is readily available in their backyard," he adds.

The company has set up shop at various fairs such as the Social Market and Kranji Countryside Farmers' Market.

Other vendors, such as Ms Cynthia Wee-Hoefer, 65, note that the market's location is an important consideration.

The owner of Organic Himalaya sells exotic vegetables such as kohlrabi and yacon flown in from farms in Nepal, as well as jams, spices and lentils.

"I won't sell perishables such as vegetables at open-air markets that aren't well shaded as that will affect the quality of the produce. I'd rather sell non-perishable goods such as jams, honey and lentils."

Her go-to market is the one at Loewen Gardens and you can find her there each month.

Organisers are also adding fringe activities to entertain patrons after they shop.

At the upcoming Social Market, there will be an outdoor film screening and yoga classes, while the Farmers' Market at Loewen Gardens has a playground and trampoline to occupy the little ones.

For regular market-goers such as account manager Kelson Ong, farmers' markets are treasure troves of locally grown or made food.

The 27-year-old has attended every edition of the Social Market. "Each time I go, I see new made-in-Singapore items and it's a great place to find out more about local vendors."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2017, with the headline 'More farmers' markets popping up'. Print Edition | Subscribe