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Garden Stories: Our Kampong Farm Rooftop Community Garden

On the top floor of a disused carpark space in Bedok, a group of 20 residents collectively grow, harvest, and cook for one another using produce from their rooftop community garden. Our Kampong Farm has taken a different approach to most community gardens, opting for the communal farm model – where everyone puts in their fair share of  work and enjoys the harvest together, rather than designating individual allotments. I felt inspired by what I saw, and could feel a sense of community spirit from this group of urban farmers.

This sprawling rooftop space is managed by 20 people, and currently not all of it is used for edible plants. Spanning around 15,000 square feet, only 10 per cent of the space is used to grow a wide variety of herbs, vegetables and fruits like caixin, kang kong, spinach, Japanese radish, lettuce, eggplant, tomato, pumpkin, bittergourd, watermelon, musk melon, okra, long beans, chilli, Thai basil, rosemary, perilla, pandan, aloe vera, oyster plant and papaya, among others. 

These urban farmers keep their expenses lean by taking what is normally considered waste from food vendors in the vicinity and using it as fertiliser. Given the number of plants here, store-bought fertiliser would not be cost-effective. In addition, they use a drip irrigation system for some of their plants, reducing water wastage and fertiliser run-off. Desmond Tan, who is part of the team, shared that okara, a by-product of making tofu, has proven to be a highly nutritious fertiliser, and dried banana peels have given their tomato plants a fantastic potassium boost. Food waste is certainly a resource that we don’t use enough of.

In this interview, Desmond tells us about the journey of Our Kampong Farm and lessons learnt along the way.

Soil Class on 17 June!

I have a Soil Class in June, join me!

Soil Class (Basic Level) by The Tender Gardener

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know to gain confidence in growing healthy edible plants, so join us!

Date & Time: 17 June 2017, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Venue: NONG at HortPark (33 Hyderabad Road (off Alexandra Rd), Beside the lawn
Cost: $39 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential
RSVP: Sign up here!

What you will learn in this session:

– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Which soil to buy?
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings
[To learn about soil amendments and mixing your own soil, please join us for the intermediate soil workshop on a later date]

WWOOFing in Japan

Have you ever considered spending several months at a time farming in Japan as part of the WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) programme? Shermain, Ken and Kai Ni took time off work last year to do just that, hopping from one farm to the next, accumulating meaningful memories, a vast array of knowledge, and friendships along the way. Shermain even ended up finding employment in Kagawa, where she is now based.

Shermain travelled as an individual while Ken and Kai Ni travelled as a couple. In this post, they relate their WWOOFing experiences, and dispense some advice on how you can be prepared for your adventure!

Shermain Pea

1. How long did you go for and which towns did you visit?

Total: Almost 6 months.

I WOOFed from 2nd August 2016 – 30th October 2016, went and volunteered at Kamikatsu from 21st Nov to 15th Dec, and then back to Kagawa to WWOOF all the way till 25th Jan.

Places that I WWOOFed at:

Hiroshima  (h30077)

Ayagawa, Kagawa (h32438)

Shizouka (h6885)

Fujino (Kanagawa) (h35620)

Practicing Permaculture in the City

permaculture in the city

[Milkwood PDC course outing with David Holmgren in Sydney, photo by Oliver Holmgren]

With more Singaporeans learning about permaculture, many wonder if a Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) is relevant to them and how we can practice permaculture in the city given most of us live in apartments.

In my previous post featuring reviews on PDC courses in Southeast Asia and Australia, I mentioned that the PDC is highly relevant if you wish to design a farm or any kind of space for growing crops because it is a design course. The course is currently not available in Singapore, and I would suggest getting acquainted with the ethics and principles of permaculture first, before deciding if you wish to proceed. You can even do an online Intro to Permaculture course like the one offered here (it started on 1 May but it looks like one can still enrol).

So how can we practice permaculture in the city, where it’s also relevant to apartment dwellers? In permaculture, the aim is to create a holistic design system for managing an ecosystem in harmony with nature, and can be scaled down to suit the size of our balcony, corridor, rooftop, courtyard, or backyard garden/s.

April Session of Soil Class

Soil Class is back again in April, join us!

Soil Class (Basic Level) by The Tender Gardener

Relatively new to urban farming, and looking to demystify the subject of soil? Through this talk, learn soil basics and what your plants need to thrive instead of just survive. We will cover what you need to know to gain confidence in growing healthy edible plants, so join us!

Date & Time: 15 April 2017, 10:30am – 12:00pm
Venue: NONG at HortPark (33 Hyderabad Road (off Alexandra Rd), Beside the lawn
Cost: $39 per person, with limited spaces available, so booking is essential
RSVP: Sign up here!

What you will learn in this session:

– Different types of soil
– Physical needs of plants
– Nutrient requirements of plants
– Fertilisation
– Tips on growing seedlings
[To learn about soil amendments and mixing your own soil, please join us for the intermediate soil workshop on a later date]