Sense of ful­fil­ment

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In­spired by an or­ganic farm

Af­ter a trip to an or­ganic farm in Tai­wan, where they saw farm­ers grow food with­out pes­ti­cides and tasted the fresh greens grown on the spot, this cou­ple wanted to cul­ti­vate veg­eta­bles the same way in Sin­ga­pore.

So Chia Ei Ei, 40, a teacher, and her hus­band Kevin Chua, 43, an al­lied ed­u­ca­tor, rented a rack from Pocket Greens, an ur­ban farm in Bukit Pan­jang.

Un­der the ver­ti­cal rack adop­tion pro­gramme, one can rent a rack mea­sur­ing 1.8m by 1m at S$50 (RM155) a month to grow veg­eta­bles. The min­i­mum lease is three months.

The farm started the pro­gramme in 2014 in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the North West Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil; 40% of the pro­ceeds go to needy stu­dents in the district.

Grow­ing veg­eta­bles on a rack is like hav­ing an ef­fi­cient multi-storey farm. Each rack comes with four shelves and each shelf can hold five trays, which mea­sure 56cm by 23cm each.

On th­ese trays, you spread out a layer of spe­cially mixed com­post, sow the seeds, and then come back a week or two later to har­vest. An au­to­mated wa­ter­ing sys­tem saves gar­den­ers the has­sle of com­ing back ev­ery day.

Veg­eta­bles that can be grown on racks in­clude mi­cro­greens – tiny young greens which are har­vested when they are still ju­ve­nile plants – like pea shoots, beet, broc­coli, and kale.

Dif­fer­ent species take dif­fer­ent times to ma­ture. Among the fastest are radish and sun­flow­ers, which can be har­vested in five days, while a slower grow­ing plant such as kai lan or let­tuce will take 14 days.

Chia and her hus­band have been tak­ing their nine-year-old daugh­ter, Me­gan, to the farm. She says: “It has given Me­gan, who dreams of be­com­ing a farmer, a glimpse of what farm­ing is like.”

The fam­ily grows mi­cro­greens such as sun­flower and broc­coli sprouts, xiao bai cai, and red radish, and adds them to sal­ads Chia says: “Com­pared with buy­ing from the mar­ket, I am as­sured that there is no pes­ti­cide used.

“There is also a sense of ful­fil­ment from grow­ing our own veg­gies.” – The Straits Times/Asia News Net­work

Me­gan with a tray that she re­cently pre­pared and seeded. Mum Chia cre­ates fam­ily time to­gether at the rented plot of land.

Yeo at his plot at the Eng Kong Cheng Soon Com­mu­nity Gar­den.

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