scoot | Issue 54 • November 2019

64 SCOOT RED DOT REPORT FARM LIFE Meet the duo who is bringing urban farming to Singapore’s masses Scott Farmer and Justine Ong-Farmer are certainly living up to their (sur)names. After all, they make up the husband- and-wife team behind The Farmers, a small local enterprise that champions urban agriculture. The business, which launched at the end of 2018, was inspired by the pair’s globetrotting adventures. “When we were travelling around Europe, USA, and South America, we spent a lot of time at homestays, and found that almost everyone maintained a little edible garden,” shares Ong- Farmer. “It seemed like a very healthy activity – mentally, physically, socially. We don’t see a lot of that in Singapore, so when we returned, we wanted to help raise awareness about the benefits of growing and eating both locally and seasonally.” Today, the duo runs The Farmers out of their front yard in Yio Chu Kang. Here, they carry out small-scale production of native herbs and fruits such as banana and soursop, which they sell at farmers’ markets or through direct orders, alongside their signature nasi ulam (a Peranakan dish of steamed rice mixed with herbs). “There is such a wide variety of local crops that have been largely forgotten, especially as society moves towards non-native dishes and ingredients,” says Ong-Farmer. “We want to encourage people to reflect on their roots, and how their ancestors lived off the same land they now inhabit.” Recently, they also started conducting workshops – called A Seat at the Farmers’ Table – several times a month. These two-hour sessions aim to teach participants about how to grow local crops in a limited space, how to incorporate such ingredients Fellow urban agriculture business Edible Garden City also runs weekend workshops, which cover topics such as organic farming, how tomake kombucha, and how to growmicrogreens. Check out its website for more details! WORDS KEL TAN GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY into dishes, as well as the wider benefits of urban farming. The duo firmly believes that there is huge potential for urban farming on the Little Red Dot. “Singapore is obviously land-scarce, which presents challenges but also opportunities. If there were a surplus of space, we might not have been so creative in how we approach food production issues, which will only become more acute in future,” says Ong-Farmer. “Besides, the benefits of urban farming go beyond pure production – it also improves mental and physical health, facilitates urban cooling and air purification, and helps us retain our unique cultural heritage.”