Urban farms: Meet local growers at City Sprouts' Farm Day Out

Sprout Hub's bi-monthly Farm Day Out is a chance for the public to interact with about 36 commercial and hobbyist farmers, who rent plots in greenhouses.
Sprout Hub's bi-monthly Farm Day Out is a chance for the public to interact with about 36 commercial and hobbyist farmers, who rent plots in greenhouses.PHOTO: CITY SPROUTS

SINGAPORE - Urban farming has taken root here in recent years, with hobbyists growing herbs along corridors, in community gardens and soon even on HDB carpark rooftops. If you are not sure where to start, City Sprouts' bi-monthly Farm Day Out may offer some inspiration.

Organised by social enterprise City Sprouts at its Henderson Road farm Sprout Hub, it is a chance for the public to interact with about 35 commercial and hobbyist farmers, who rent plots in greenhouses.

While the farm welcomes visitors daily, it is only during the open house that most farmers will be there to introduce their crops and growing methods.

These include aquaponics, in which waste produced by reared fish supplies the nutrients for plants; and aeroponics, in which plant roots grow in the air and are watered by a nutrient solution mist.

Some farmers rear chickens, while others grow strawberries and medical mushrooms such as cordyceps and lingzhi.

City Sprouts co-founder Chee Zhi Kin hopes that by getting up close to the process, people will be less intimidated by farming. Many of City Sprouts' tenants are beginners, he points out, and went through trial and error to produce crops such as herbs and leafy greens.

"We want to showcase the diverse ways people can grow and farm and show how easy it is to be involved in growing your own food," he says.

The Farm Day Out sessions have been a long time coming. City Sprouts, which was founded in 2018, moved into its current premises at the former Henderson Secondary School last year.

The founders spent about six months renovating it and planned an official opening for March, only to have it scuppered by the coronavirus pandemic.

In August, the first open house finally took off. It has since expanded to include fringe activities such as a fashion swop, held in collaboration with clothing swop movements My Zero Waste Wardrobe and Cloop.

And at the recent Christmas edition held last week, guests contributed to a community sculpture in which they created a Christmas tree out of old plastic bottles. A total of 200 people visited the farm over four sessions.

The next Farm Day Out is slated for February, when Mr Chee hopes the regulations will have eased to allow for more visitors.

"Covid-19 threw us a curveball in our first year here and we have been forced to adapt, but we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel," he says.


FARM DAY OUT AT SPROUT HUB

WHERE 102 Henderson Road

INFO gwslivingart.com/citysprout

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