Transforming Spaces – a Citizen Farm story

SLA is constantly looking at innovative ways to adapt State land and properties for interim use to benefit the community. We work closely with relevant agencies and the public who share our vision in transforming spaces and creating communities.

Meet 28-year-old Darren Ho from Citizen Farm who has set up a farm at the most unlikely of places - under the West Coast Viaduct.

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Darren with a tray of micro-greens or seedlings of edible vegetables which are less than 14 days old

Sandwiched between two busy roads plied by heavy vehicles, the lush greenery peeping out from his urban farm provides an interesting juxtaposition to the otherwise desert landscape of gravel and concrete under the West Coast Viaduct.

Born from ideas generated through public engagement, the space under West Coast Viaduct was fitted out with electricity and modular structures and launched in January 2017 to facilitate the piloting of new concepts by social groups and entrepreneurs.

In March 2017, SLA supported Darren’s proposal to take up the space to test-bed urban farming. We asked him about his interesting choice of location for the farm, he replied “We are here to show that by using technology, we can even grow food at under-utilized spaces such as under a Viaduct”.

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The vegetables were grown in see-through modular structures

How do you farm under an expressway with no direct sunlight? Are the vegetables safe for consumption with the pollution coming from the traffic surrounding the farm?

The vegetables under West Coast Viaduct are grown in a controlled environment. The modular structures provided by SLA were transformed into greenhouses retrofitted with air-conditioning kept at a constant 22 degrees. An additional fan helps improve air circulation in the structure. “The vegetables can grow faster and better this way” explained Darren as he enthusiastically shared his wealth of knowledge in urban farming. The setup at his farm also uses affordable everydaymaterials; the vegetables were grown in trays placed on simple four-level racks to maximize space. Florescent lights installed on the racks provided lighting for the plants. “We don’t have to worry about pest or contaminants as it is a controlled and very clean environment” explained Darren as he brought us on a tour of the farm. Currently, the farm is able to produce mushrooms and a variety of micro-greens vegetables which are supplied to restaurants. Darren has plans in the future for the produce from urban farms such as this to be made available to households.

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Vegetables were grown in trays and placed on vertical racks to maximise space

As we wrapped up the interview and Darren went about his task of loading trays of vegetables into his van for delivery to the restaurants, we asked Darren what drives his passion for farming. Darren replied, “Just seeing the seeds sprout and watching them grow daily…Each of them is like a tiny miracle to me”, it is with the mindset to share this joy of farming that Darren frequently conducts workshops to aspiring urban farmers at the West Coast Viaduct. Participants are taught urban farming methods and given hands-on opportunities to test out their green fingers. Find out more on Facebook @EdibleGardenCity.

Recognising the growing demand for urban farming, SLA has facilitated community farming by allocating State land at 60 Jalan Penjara, and use of the land under West Coast Viaduct for test-bedding of urban farming.