Singapore food story: Past

Singapore's high-tech farms: From yesterday's pig farms to today's vertical veggie gardens

A pig farm in the Punggol area in the early 1980s. Pig farms were phased out in the 1980s due to land scarcity and extensive water pollution from pig waste. Mr Joseph Phua uses an aquaponic system to grow vegetables and rear fish at Orchidville farm
Mr Joseph Phua uses an aquaponic system to grow vegetables and rear fish at Orchidville farm in Sungei Tengah. His vegetables are harvested daily and served in a zi char restaurant at the centre of the farm.ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
Aerial shot of Punggol Phase 3 Commercial Farms, which Mr Phua's farms were a part of. This photo was taken between 1982 and 1983.
A pig farm in the Punggol area in the early 1980s. Pig farms were phased out in the 1980s due to land scarcity and extensive water pollution from pig waste. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PROFESSOR PAUL TAIGANIDES
A pig farm in the Punggol area in the early 1980s. Pig farms were phased out in the 1980s due to land scarcity and extensive water pollution from pig waste. Mr Joseph Phua uses an aquaponic system to grow vegetables and rear fish at Orchidville farm
Aerial shot of Punggol Phase 3 Commercial Farms, which Mr Phua's farms were a part of. This photo was taken between 1982 and 1983. PHOTO: COURTESY OF PROFESSOR PAUL TAIGANIDES

Farming has come full circle in Singapore. From being an agrarian society and an island blanketed in farms in the 1960s, Singapore is now exploring modern options to farm efficiently. One of these is 'growing vertically', to maximise the country's land use, while bringing farming indoors to protect crops against the ravages of climate change.

In the 1960s, Singapore was an agrarian society, with farmlands blanketing the north, west and east. The country was self-sufficient in eggs, poultry meat and pork.

Despite Singapore's urbanisation in the decades since, one of the children brought up on a farm back then is still a farmer today.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'From yesterday's pig farms to today's vertical veggie gardens'. Print Edition | Subscribe