Meet Bjorn, who sheds light to urban farming in Singapore and improving our community as a whole. His grassroots effort is going a long way and read on to find out how it all began.
1. How did you come up with the idea for Edible Garden City?
I spent about four years working on organic farms in Spain, Scotland and Japan. Upon returning to Singapore, I wanted to continue farming, but due to the space constraints here, it was difficult to secure a piece of land for farming. I really believed in the importance of growing our own food, and the immense benefits even small-scale farming can bring, and so I was determined to grow food.
To overcome space constraints, as Edible Garden City, we decided to take advantage of Singapore’s under-utilised spaces – rooftops, beneath viaducts, restaurant balconies. All these could be activated to become pockets of edible gardens. And that was how Edible Garden City began, by growing small-scale urban farms within the city centre. Today we have a full-production farm in Queenstown, and have built more than 200 edible gardens.
2. Did you start the venture alone?
I was fortunate to have met friends and business partners who shared my vision of improving food resilience in Singapore, and empowering people to grow their own food. Edible Garden City was started in 2012 by myself and my business partner Rob Pearce, who has since moved overseas and left the business. My wife Crystal was also incredibly supportive, and encouraged me to follow this unbeaten track that I believed so strongly in.
3. What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?
At that time, urban farming was still a relatively new notion. It took a lot of convincing to have chefs, home owners and building managers let us build edible gardens within their premises. In terms of hiring, it was also difficult as very few people wanted to be farmers, with the gruelling work under the sun. But as word of mouth began to spread, we were lucky to have a steady stream of clients that shared the same vision for growing our own food as Edible Garden City, and that helped us to build momentum, and led us to where we are today.
4. Do you think luck played a role in the success of Edible Garden City?
Luck plays a role in everything; it was no different with Edible Garden City. We were fortunate to have crossed paths with the friends, collaborators, clients and employees that helped us grow. But luck was not the main or only factor. Years of hard work and dedication from the whole Edible Garden City team, past and present, was the key contributor to the company’s success. We are unique in that we have a team that are not only incredibly dedicated and hard working, but that shared the right values in terms of growing food, and a passion for sharing their skills and knowledge.
5. How has the Urban Farming changed in the last year?
The Government recently announced “30 by 30”, which is the aim to reach 30% food resilience by 2030, by ramping up local food production. This has shone the spotlight on Singapore’s relatively small agriculture industry, and given us a boost of confidence and public awareness. Singaporeans are beginning to see farming in Singapore as a viable career and something worth supporting.
6. What advice would you give to an Urban Farming company just starting their business out?
My advice would be to keep on keeping on, and to understand that the sum of the parts is greater than each individual; the whole industry needs to band together and lift one another up and a whole. We are proud to be in this business because the competition is not only friendly, but also supportive. We all understand that we are working collectively to reach “30 by 30”. Second would be to find a team that is dedicated and passionate about growing food.
Check out Edible Garden City’s FOODSCAPE page to view some of the edible gardens that they have created and maintained and Pop by their HAPPENINGS page to find out about all our upcoming events that you can take part in!
What’s more you ask? Get your hands on a box of farm-fresh produce by heading over to the CITIZEN BOX and signing up!