• Pritam Singh

Urban Farming - COVID Reflections II

Growing indoor plants of various varieties in homes and along common corridors is not exactly new for those of us who live in HDB flats or private apartments. My wife and I however, only recently joined the urban farming movement, albeit in a small way, experimenting with growing vegetables, joining many other Singaporeans who did the same over the last few months in particular.

After slightly less than 10-odd years of housevisits and estate walks, I always smile seeing seniors grow vegetables and plants at the various community gardens in the constituency, mainly at RC gardens. It is a useful way to spend one's time and energies, working with one's hands and finding much fulfilment in the activity. So many residents feel proud when they harvest their vegetables or plant a species no one expects would grow.

But such gardens come with space constraints and in the HDB setting at least, not every senior can expect a plot allocation. The common corridors also come with space restrictions and sometimes also - neighbour disputes - when the placement of pots or planters cause obstruction, the planting is excessive, haphazardly done or poorly maintained. Could there be other solutions to benefit from the therapeutic effects of gardening/farming, especially in light of our increasing elderly population?

Fast forward to some weeks back. Bjorn Low of the Citizen Farm, introduced me to the Sohs of One Kind House, who are prototyping a hydroponic solution they launched on Kickstarter, called One Kind Block. It is an interesting concept you can read about here:

I am assessing its suitability for a pilot project to a block of seniors in Eunos by growing some vegetables with a One Kind Block prototype myself. There are quite a few hydroponic solutions on the market, complete with LED lights etc. but I like the clean and modular-like design of one kind brick. And it looks noob-friendly. My first experiment involves seeing which vegetables grow best in low / no sunlight conditions, mainly to account for apartments which do not receive direct sunlight. I have started with kangkong, watercress, Brazilian spinach and basil. Expect to hear from me with updates (read: failures?) and hopefully, some success too!

COVID for all its dislocation and damage, has had its fair share of silver linings. A shot in the arm for urban farming being one. I will continue to work on my little vegetable project with some friends and see how best we can introduce it to our seniors. Any tips picked up on your urban farming journeys are welcome!

My tip - You can use your Skillsfuture Credits to take up an urban farming course! Check out online resources too. Lots of information available.

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