Most may find the term “Urban farming” in Singapore rather odd. Is there even space for it? However, in a quiet corner of Queenstown, there are plots of plants growing, chickens in coops crowing, and a lady who is pruning. Who is this lady? Rebecca. You wouldn’t know by looking at her, but Rebecca is a university graduate who has gave up paper-chasing and city-dwelling to prune and harvest, to be in touch with nature.
Traditional farming is associated with the older generations, who often grew their own produce. Same for Rebecca, who naturally grew an interest as she watched her grandmother grow edible leafy greens in their home. When asked about her choice of an unconventional job, she laughs as it is not her first foray into eccentric jobs. She was previously in charge of operations and conservative education work at Sea Aquarium. Now, she is an urban farmer who toils in the hot sun.
Tough job, you might say. Yet nothing makes her happier.
If you are deciding between an unconventional job and a nine-to-five job, her advice is simple. Weigh your options thoroughly. If an opportunity arises and your circumstances allow it, go ahead. Don’t be afraid to get you hands dirty is another – literally. Accept mess and hard work, and figuratively; to be open to new experiences.
In this tough job, what keeps her fuel running? Undoubtedly, it is the satisfaction of growing her own produce (when her veggies taste fresher than supermarkets’ – that’s an achievement unlocked.). Restaurants supporting the same cause and ordering their local produce is a strong motivation to keep her working as well. Most importantly, it is the human connections formed and shared by volunteers and colleagues of the same passion.
Now that she grows her own produce from scratch, food waste is something she is more conscious about. She hopes that this awareness can be spread to more Singaporeans, as the farmers’ effort and sweat in production should not go to waste.
The viability and sustainability of urban farming as a career was and is still a concern in Singapore. However, she doesn’t regret her decision as urban farming has started to gain traction. Now, surprisingly, there is a rise of younger generations growing their own food like tomatoes and chilli in their own homes and community spaces.
To top off Rebecca’s satisfaction, her homegrown ingredient, Ulam Raja, completes Nasi Ulam – the dish that she loves. Hence, if you think urban farming is all about hard work, with no fun and satisfaction – it is not.