Sometime back, BFF and I visited a rooftop farm ~ Comcrop at the top level of *Scape! I wouldn't have known of Comcrop's existence until a fellow choir mate, Jeremy, started sharing boxes of impossibly cute mini tomatoes after choir practice one evening. "So sweet, where did you get these tomatoes from?" I asked. "I grew it myself, I'm a farmer, I've a rooftop farm", came the unexpected reply.
So interesting! I told myself I must definitely make a visit to the rooftop farm (maybe I'd find my Rooftop Prince there too, no need Korean, Singaporean also can lah! Lol!).
Well, there was no rooftop prince in sight, what I found instead was more tomatoes and loadful of herbs and vegetables, all grown by Singapore's first aquaponic farm up in the sky. Read on to find out more!
Guest Post by BFF
Singapore’s Orchard Road historically in the 1800s is known for its plantation of fruits, spices and all things fresh. Fast forward to the present moment, the plantations have been replaced by swanky shopping buildings and skyscrapers, however one ambitious idea perched on a quiet roof top flanked by intimidating hotel buildings aims to rethink the way we produce, deliver and consume fresh food.
Welcome to the urban roof top aquaponics farm, situated on top of Scape building in the heart of Orchard Road sprawling 6,000 square feet produces an array of crops ranging from fresh tomatoes, herbs, vegetables and fishes (yes real life fishes!).
Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising of fishes, prawns, etc in enclosed tanks) and hydroponics (cultivating plants in water). The enclose system whereby waste water created through the breeding of fishes is recycled to provide water for the hydroponics system.
Waste water from the fish tanks is filtered through a complex mix of substrates and bacteria to break down the waste and purify the water, thereafter the water is pumped through a series of white pipes as shown below. Each pipe holds multiple containers which crops are grown from. The pipes are stack vertically upwards to maximise the space constraints.
The current system used by Comcrop has been painstakingly developed and refined through the years to better suit our tropical climate and crops being grown. Crops currently grown in Comcrop are a wide array of tomatoes ranging from cherry tomatoes to heirloom tomatoes, and herbs such as mint and sweet basil.
Immediate benefits of such a system in Singapore are the enjoyment of fresher and tastier produce. Due to the close proximity of the farm and the consumers, crops can be harvested right at the last minute before consumption. Produce which are consumed immediately after harvesting enjoys higher nutrients levels, superior and sharper taste.
Currently crops produced by Comcrop are delivered directly to hotels and restaurants located a stone throw away.
Other benefits are minimising of carbon foot print occurred during the transportation and storage of fresh produce. The immediate beautification of boring dull grey roof tops into gardens filled with flowers and fresh smelling herbs.
All work and no giving makes Comcrop a dull company. With this in mind the founders are strongly driven by the social causes and impact they can make in the process of growing Comcrop.
Activities are routinely conducted to raise awareness of urban farms and engaging the community. Students, as well as elderlies, have been invited to volunteer at the farm to learn farming skills with the hope students will be inspired and more of such farms can be built across Singapore.
It is extremely heartening to learn that a group of passionate people are actively trying to bridge the gap between us and food. Due to our country’s wealth and high purchasing power, we have seemed to lost personal touch with the food we consume.
I envision a future whereby even in our land scarce country, children are able to play around in farms catching butter flies and helping to harvest fresh produce. By creating a closer understanding of our dependence on Mother Nature will make us appreciate and conserve our environment further.
Do drop Comcrop a message on their Facebook page a week before if you wish to visit the rooftop farm, or join farm maintenance session every Saturday from 9.30am to 12.30pm.
Comcrop by The Living! Project
Address: 2 Orchard Link, *Scape, Singapore 237978