As a small city-state with limited land resource, Singapore depends heavily on imported food supply. Only 1% of land in Singapore is available for food production, and over 90% of food is imported. The importance of food supply resilience was highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic, where the international food supply chain was put on the line as nations went into lockdown globally. In times of food supply chain crises like these, local food production acts as an important buffer.
Food Security in Singapore
The Singapore Government has set a goal for Singapore. To effectively buffer from supply disruptions, Singapore aims to produce 30% of its nutritional needs by 2030.
“The practice of urban farming has picked up in scale and sophistication globally in recent years. In Singapore, we encourage innovative urban farming approaches such as rooftop farming, which optimises land, introduces more greenery into the built environment, and potentially enhances our food supply resilience,” said an Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spokesperson.
At ETHOZ, we believe in embracing innovation to build a sustainable future. With this in mind, we have embarked on our Hydroponics farm on the rooftop of our headquarters office building.
Why Urban Rooftop Farming?
Rooftop spaces are unutilized land space.
Bare roofs in cities absorb and radiate heat — a phenomenon known as the heat island effect. This increases energy usage and contributes to poorer air quality. Rooftop farms acts as a cooling system for buildings, reducing carbon emissions.
Taking advantage of natural sunlight on the rooftop instead of using artificial light equates to healthier vegetables with lower production cost.
By growing food locally, we are also able to lessen the environmental impact of food transportation. The energy sources used in the transportation of imported produce are eliminated.
The trim in farm-to-table transportation time also means that vegetables produced locally is fresher as compared to imported produce.
Pesticide Free Produce
As urban farmers, we take great care to ensure the welfare of both our consumers and our environment.
Pesticides are traditionally used to protect crops from pests. However, the downside of pesticides are its chemicals and heavy metals components. These lead to health and environmental issues in the long run.
At ETHOZ, we grow our vegetables using a hydroponic nutrient solution with a fully-biodegradable foam substrate.
Variety of Produce
At ETHOZ Rooftop Farm, we cultivate a variety of vegetables. The range includes vegetables commonly found in supermarkets all over Singapore, from Chinese greens to salad greens.
List of vegetables (at time of writing, subject to changes):
- Bok Choy or Xiao Bai Cai (小白菜)
- Milk Chinese Cabbage (奶白菜)
- Chinese Kale (芥兰)
- Choy Sum (菜心)
- Siberian Kale
- Green and Red Batavia
- Romaine Lettuce
Our Growth Process
The entire growth process from seeding to harvest takes around 50 days.
Our staff are actively engaged in this Urban Farming initiative. Each of our departments takes charge of one to two varieties of vegetables, from farm-to-table. From the hands-on process of planting the seedling all the way to the tasting of our harvest, it was definitely a refreshing and enjoyable team-building activity for urban office workers like ourselves.
Our Harvesting Process
We are experimenting with growing different varieties of vegetables to determine which are most suitable for hydroponics growth, as well as most popular in taste.
For our first few harvests, we have shared our fruits of labor with our shareholders, directors and staff.
Our harvests have been well-received thus far, with feedback gathered being fresher and more moist as compared to packaged produce commonly found in the supermarkets.
Moving forward, we are looking to expand our rooftop farm from its current location at the seventh floor rooftop area to our eighth floor rooftop area, a total of approximately 8000sqft. With the installation of new racks, our harvest is expected to increase from 70kg to 400kg.
We are also in the midst of exploring partnership with local charity distribution organisations.
Our next step in the direction of environmentally-friendly initiatives include looking at the installation of solar panels on our rooftop.
We look forward to sharing our exciting future updates with you, stay tuned!