Last week, I went with my beloved friend Bhavani Prakash to visit Derrick Ng at his spray-free farm space in Neo Tiew. He’s an inspiring, enterprising young man with a vegetable farming business and a fish soup stall, and has an impressive corridor farm at home. He’s determined to improve Singapore’s food security, and has a strong desire to bring healthier, pesticide-free food to Singaporeans. He is one of a collective group of people who have adopted farm plots on this property.
Derrick explained to us that he uses a closed loop system to ensure no waste is created in the process of growing vegetables and fish. The vegetables that don’t make to it the market or his fish soup stall, Wang Yuan Fish Soup, end up as compost. The fish he farms is for the purpose of making fish emulsion, an effective fertiliser for plants.
After showing us around his three greenhouses, he was kind enough to give us some freshly harvested Purple Chye Sim to take home. I cooked it that evening in a soup, and it was very delicious. During our time with Derrick, he dispensed lots of growing tips related to vegetables and fruit trees. He also shared that he favours permaculture as a farming practice, and he uses resources that are readily available to him, and makes the best of what he has.
I can’t emphasise enough, the importance of knowing your farmer, where possible, because there’s an assurance that the food you’re consuming is safe. Also, it’s been said that eating locally and seasonally is healthier for us because we follow the rhythms of nature.
Here are photos of Derrick’s farming plots, and an interview where he shares details of his journey so far.
1. Thanks for taking the time to show us around your farming plots, Derrick. could you share with me a little bit of your journey, what got you interested in farming?
My family, especially my son. I am looking for alternative choices to invest in good health for my family. I am looking for natural food to replace drugs. Also to boost my family’s immunity through food therapy (natural healing) rather than relying heavily on antibiotics. Henceforth I began the journey into buying organic food. But I have doubts, I am not sure whether the source of food is truly organic, and the price which I was paying is unsustainable. I then began to control my food source by creating an integrated aqua-modular farming system along my corridor and producing vegetables for ourselves. Slowly, over the years, Generation Green was born.
2. I see that you are trying different techniques in your three greenhouses. How long did it take you to settle on these methods as the most efficient, productive and fast ways of growing vegetables?
Modular farming system is the fastest. It is less prone to stress for the plants due to pest attack. Conventional farming is back-breaking and involves heavy use of heavy machinery to operate on a productive farm. This method of farming is created based on 4 years of farming experiences. The system involve speed, efficiency, minimum wastage, high nett yield, low cost production, easy maintenance, ergonomic design, low dependency on man hours, saves water, minimizes surface run off, protects the environment with less carbon footprint, adaptable to changes of climatic condition, no destruction to biodiversity, and withstands dramatic vary of temperature changes in a tropical climate.
3. You mainly grow green leafy vegetables, which you use either at your fish soup stall or sell in the Katong area. What is reason for this? Why not other vegetables?
No special reason. The supply of Generation Green vegetables is based on many factors to produce quality vegetables. At present, the demand for Generation Green vegetables is estimated to be 500kg per month. My demand outweighs the supply, and I need to quickly think out of the box to produce vegetables in the shortest possible means of production cycle without compromising the quality and safety of the leafy greens, while upholding Generation Green’s growing policy, “To Grow Food Naturally”.
Why only at Roxy? That Health Shop is the sole agent representing Generation Green to distribute vegetables. Generation Green is looking to explore growing commodites in neighbouring countries, henceforth, the importance of selecting strategy partners and long-term business partners is important. Also, Generation Green controls the selling price for each bag of vegetables sold to consumers. The aim is sustainable. Not priced out of range when label organic food. Why grow only leafy vegetables? The supply for leafy vegetables is in great demand, and most consumers need leafy vegetables to acquires minerals. It forms the basis of comfort food for many people, but must be sustainable. It is based on supply and demand. No point growing food with no market. Energy and effort involved.
4. Could you share with me some big lessons you’ve learned as part of your journey?
Be passionate, and I use my heart and soul to grow quality vegetables for my family, friends, and network of community members. Returning customers give me the confidence to continue to grow from strength to strength. Love what you doing and the energy is enormous. Should the very first intent be about using agriculture to make money, most likely, the interest will slowly fade away. Unsustainable in long run.
5. You have such vast knowledge on planting herbs, vegetables and fruits. Where did you acquire all of this knowledge?
Experience is from working on the ground. Not paper play. My skill and knowledge is built upon the exchange of time contributed in farming.
6. You also have an incredible corridor farm at home, which you grow in containers like polystyrene boxes. How many containers do you have, and what are you growing?
A total of 26 boxes. I grow local leafy vegetables to vegetables that are less common in Singapore. Eg: green Kales, Dinosaur Kale, Kasuna, Tomatoes, Celery, Russian Kale and many many more. I am still exploring many crops that possible to grow in modular system.
7. What made you start your fish soup stall?
Fish soup culture is always at the heart of Singaporeans and remains one of their top most choices. However in recent years, I have noticed that there have been changes in the preparation methods of fish soup by certain hawkers, leading to a drop in the standards of traditional fish soup. I formerly considered fish soup as our healthiest choice but not now. Henceforth, I’ve hanged up my corporate attire and decided to sell fish soup for our community. 旺源鱼荡 (Wang Yuan Fish Soup) was created to serve hearty meals at affordable pricing. The aim is to attract a younger crowd to eat fish soup. I have married the above 2 services as a farm to table concept. Generation Green then created a new position, namely, hawker-farmer profession, 农夫小饭。
8. Where can people buy your vegetables, and try your healthy fish soup?
To buy Generation Green vegetables, visit That Health Shop at Roxy Square 2, 50 East Coast Road, #02-111.
Derrick has said that he is looking a long-term collaborative farming team, or individuals who are interested to invest and produce food on a long term basis. If you’d like to get in touch, drop him an email at derrick[at]generationgreen[dot]sg.
Here’s a meaningful video of Derrick that found I online, check it out.