Citizen Farm: Edible Garden City

Last month, I had my first visit to a farm in Singapore for a service club in SAS called Edible Garden City and backed up by the organization Citizen Farm. Having been encouraged by a friend insisting that I needed to experience this for myself, I decided to take the short trip and see what all of the hype was about.

According to their official website, Citizen Farm works considers four different factors in working toward their goal: building with “foodscaping”; teaching through educational programs; expanding their food production capabilities; and using Citizen Farm, the name of the actual farm, as their sustainable farming model.

The primary goal of this project aims to advocate for a “grow-your-own-food movement in cities around the world,” starting with Singapore.

Located at 60 Jalan Penjara, the destination was a quick get-away for our group, comprised of me, my friend, and several other members of the club that set out on SAS schoolbus to explore this phenomenon.  I took advantage of the travel time and our interactions at the site to speak with junior Lauren Pong, President of the club, the faculty advisor, various officers and members, and the local coordinator on the farm to learn more on how they got started, what they do, and what they aim to accomplish:

The Eye: What is Citizen Farm? 

Lauren Pong, Club President: “Last year for Interim, I went for Singapore Service and one of the organizations that we visited to learn more about service organizations in Singapore was Citizen Farm. Citizen Farm is actually the first successful urban farm site that Edible Garden City, the organization, has created. So back then, it was almost exactly a year ago, and it was still almost like a warehouse, and it didn’t have a lot of stuff yet. We had a tour, but there wasn’t that much stuff to even look at, but since then, there has been a huge change.” 

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President Lauren Pong standing with members of her club to help reorganize the collection of old pots at the farm. Photo by Han Sohn.

The Eye: How did you come about creating this club? 

Lauren: “I was thinking when I went there [to the farm] how this would be a really good idea – a really good club for our school to work with. And then Mrs. Fitts, a biotech teacher last year, was very much connected to SAVE club, and she was explaining that ‘they might want to do something with the organization,’ so I kind of backed off saying ‘if SAVE club wants to do it, then I won’t do it.’ But then nothing ever happened. Ms. Huang, one of the high school Chinese teachers at SAS, approached me.  She wasn’t a sponsor for any clubs, but she had overheard me talking about how this could be a good concept for a club… So then I had a sponsor, I knew what organization I wanted to work with, and I talked to my friends about it. In the end, several of them became the officers.”

Ms. Hilda Huang serves as the club’s sponsor.

The Eye: How and why did you become a sponsor of this club?

Ms. Huang: “There are two main reasons. The first reason is the whole organization is amazing, helping the environment and becoming a part of something bigger. The second reason is we have some very dedicated officers. Everything that happens here is also because of Lauren, and she has passion. And together with other officers, you can tell they really want to make this service club work, so I thought it was important I help make this happen for them.”

Darren Ho is the current head of Citizen Farm. 

The Eye: How did you first find out about this place? 

Darren Ho: “So, I was here from the very beginning, even before Citizen Farm was around. We conceptualized the farm by looking at one of the issues that are currently being faced in Singapore in terms of food, like food waste, the production of food, the appreciation of the value of what food gives to us. So we took these three problems to use the solutions you see now on the farm today. From collecting the food waste and turning it into fertilizer to growing the food ourselves and holding workshops… that is how this place matured and organically came into its own.”

The Eye: How does the farm run? 

Darren Ho: “We call this [the whole farm] the “hub and spoke model” – this [the more “open” end of the farm, near the entrance] is an example of a spoke model. This is the front facing end where people come and see the farm all the time. And the hub model is the back end, producing all the vegetables and plants. This is a highly efficient model where we focus only on one thing and not just on the community, but only on production. We have two hubs and ten spokes.” 

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The front of the farm where most of the hands-on gardening, tendering and preparations occur. Photo by Han Sohn.

The Eye: What does everyone hope to accomplish for the future? 

Darren Ho: “So this is the first flagship farm, and we want to have ten of these all around Singapore. This quite close to the South side of Singapore, but we want to have some in the North, some in the East, some in the West, some in the central part of Singapore, and all over Singapore, essentially.”

Whilst spending some time on the farm, I also got a chance to chat with some of the officers and active members there. 

The Eye: What do you enjoy the most about this club?

“I think it’s the whole idea of direct service that I like the most. The results are immediate, and I’m able to see what I’m doing in real time. I also really love the environment and whole community here.” – Junior Lauren Sidarto, an officer of Edible Garden City

The Eye: How did you become aware of this club? What do you enjoy the most about it?

“I first came to this club because Lauren asked me if I have time. She talked to me about this club that she’s making, and I thought it was a good idea. I think what everyone here does, in general, is really cool. You get to become a part of helping the environment we live in and learn new things through hands-on experience.” – Sophomore Earn Joo Park, member of Edible Garden City

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The official website for Citizen Farm

The following video montage will give you a glimpse of the amazing work being conducted by Edible Garden City, the SAS-based service group working with Citizen Farm:

Feel free to contact one of the officers or send an email to pong48210@sas.edu.sg if you are interested in joining or have further questions. And please visit this website for more information on Citizen Farm. 

Author: Han Sohn

Han Sohn is the Chief Marketing Strategist for The Eye, and this is her second year working as a reporter for The Eye. Currently a senior, she is reaching her eighth year at SAS and fifteenth year in Singapore. At school, on most days, she can be found sharing relatable memes with her friends and updating posts on her bullet journing account @jahm.studies (in collaraboration with three other seniors). At home, she can be found binge-watching American Horror Story, or Black Mirror, or lying on her bed streaming the latest horror movies. She can be contacted at sohn31766@sas.edu.sg.

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