Singapore’s best urban farms, as recommended by culinary anthropologist Nithiya Laila
Farms in the Lion City are few and far between, and here culinary anthropologist Nithiya Laila hand-picks her favourites
Visitors to Singapore might hit the malls, the attractions and even the beaches without realising that they’re overlooking one of the city’s most precious resources: its urban farms.
Though they are few and far between in land-scarce Singapore, these farms represent passionate traditionalists and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, all committed to establishing health and secure food systems in the city.
Culinary anthropologist and committed foodie Nithiya Laila has the pleasure of working with many of them closely, whether it’s for one of her sold-out pop-up events, a special menu partnership at a hip restaurant or just making lunch at home. Here, she recommends some of her favourite farms in Singapore – all of which are destinations in their own right, even if veggies are not on your Singapore shopping list!
Fire Flies Health Farm
Tucked among the bucolic landscapes and winding lanes of Lim Chu Kang in northern Singapore, Fire Flies Health Farm is an organic farm that grows carrots, chye sim, sweet potato leaves and lots else. Run by former traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Chai Kien Chin and his family, the 3.1ha farm is an idyllic place to wander among the vegetable patches and greenhouses, as well as spot kingfishers, sunbirds and eagles, thanks to the nearby marshlands. And while making the trip up to Fire Flies is half the fun, you can still purchase their produce closer to town, and even try it at their leicha (thunder tea) restaurant chain Thunder Tree.
62 Lim Chu Kang Lane 2
Green Circle Eco Farm
A short and serene five-minute drive from Fire Flies lies Green Circle Eco Farm. The retirement project of couple Evelyn Eng and Lim Tian Soo that started in the late ’90s, this 2.2ha organic farm is still going strong, growing 100 kinds of plants – it’s not only chemical-free, but big on reusing packaging and wood for plant support and using waste produce to make plant-based fertilisers. Visitors are welcome on the farm at any time for guided or unguided walks, though you can also get in touch to organise a special event. Do note that there’s no farm shop on-site, but they do have an online store that does weekly deliveries around the city.
41 Neo Tiew Road
Lian Wah Hang Farm
Make a whole day trip of your Lim Chu Kang drive by also visiting one of the oldest remaining livestock farms in Singapore. Lian Wah Hang Farm is better known as Uncle William Quail Farm, thanks to its warm and charming second-generation owner. William Ho is an important anchor in the Singapore farming community, and his regular Facebook Live farm tours get thousands of views. Popular with school tours, the farm itself produces some 25,000 quail eggs from its 100,000 quails every single day. It’s open to the public on the weekends, and there’s a shop on-site for you to pick up fresh quail eggs.
5 Lim Chu Kang Lane 6F
Edible Garden City
From the pastoral north, we head closer to the heart of the city, where hip urban farming outfit Edible Garden City has outfitted restaurants, hotels, schools and office complexes with over 200 sustainable, pesticide-free edible gardens. EGC’s own HQ is a leafy space in the middle of Singapore’s Queenstown district, where the events calendar is constantly filled with weekend farm tours, kombucha-making workshops, grow-your-own-microgreens sessions, school holiday camps and lots more.
60 Jalan Penjara
Nithiya Laila is a Singaporean culinary anthropologist. She recently appeared in an episode of “A Singapore State of Mind,” a partnership between Ink and the Singapore Tourism Board. Watch the video for a dizzying tour around Singapore’s wet markets, urban farms and sustainable restaurants.