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Fresh veggies, all from rooftop farm at HDB carpark

Above: Baby lettuce growing at Citiponics Farm @ Ang Mo Kio, on the roof of an HDB multi-storey carpark. Left: Citiponics chairman Teo Hwa Kok at the firm's other rooftop farm in Jurong.
Citiponics chairman Teo Hwa Kok at the firm's other rooftop farm in Jurong.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN, JAMIE KOH
Above: Baby lettuce growing at Citiponics Farm @ Ang Mo Kio, on the roof of an HDB multi-storey carpark. Left: Citiponics chairman Teo Hwa Kok at the firm's other rooftop farm in Jurong.
Baby lettuce growing at Citiponics Farm @ Ang Mo Kio, on the roof of an HDB multi-storey carpark. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN, JAMIE KOH

Vegetable planting at the new Citiponics Farm @ Ang Mo Kio began only last month but within weeks, it should be producing enough leafy greens to feed 1,600 people a month.

At the height of production, the 1,800 sq m rooftop farm - situated on top of a Housing Board multi-storey carpark at Block 700 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 - aims to grow up to four tonnes of vegetables a month.

The company uses an aqua organic system, in which a constant stream of water and nutrients is pumped through a network of pipes. It does not use pesticides or produce waste, and aims to save space and energy.

The pipes have holes cut into them, creating pockets which are then filled with tiny clay pebbles. Seeds are placed among the pebbles, which become the growing medium for the plants.

The privately owned farm can currently grow up to 25 different types of vegetables, such as nai bai (dwarf bok choy), kai lan (also known as Chinese kale) and cai xin (a green leafy vegetable similar to kai lan).

"This is the first time we are piloting commercial urban farming on an HDB multi-storey carpark, and another example of how our government agencies like AVA (Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority) and HDB have exercised regulatory flexibility to support the agri-tech industry," Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon said yesterday.

"Planting started in February, with the first harvest expected in April. Residents can soon look forward to fresh vegetables that are produced by community, in the community, for the community."

 
 

Citiponics will hire locals - including elderly residents from the Awwa Senior Community Home - to work on the farm.

Among those keen to get involved is Awwa resident Yow Chai Kwai.

The 81-year-old said: "I like this environment very much - it is clean, and the vegetables we grow are nice and tasty.

"I hope that Singapore will have more of these farms so that the elderly in other areas of Singapore can experience working on a farm."

Dr Koh said the farm will also look to provide students with internship and volunteering opportunities to hone their urban farming skills and cultivate interest in green technology. And its produce will be sold at FairPrice's nearby store at the Ang Mo Kio Hub.

Said Mr Teo Hwa Kok, chairman of Citiponics: "Given the proximity of the farm to the HDB area, we can minimise the foot miles and carbon footprint used for transporting vegetables."

Citiponics has another rooftop farm in Kang Ching Road in Jurong.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2019, with the headline 'Fresh veggies, all from rooftop farm at HDB carpark'. Print Edition | Subscribe