Full Interview of Eng Ting Ting’s Why

Q: When did you have the idea of setting up a vertical farm?

“Initially, we were selling home kits for people to grow their own microgreens at home. While it is easy to grow microgreens using our kits, we wanted a farm to really showcase what can be grown here. The opportunity came up in 2014 when we collaborated with North-West Community Development Council to set up a farm at Bukit Panjang Hill. It is situated amidst community farms with many HDB blocks and condominiums nearby.”

Growing microgreens. SOURCE: INTERVIEWEE

Q: Why vertical farm?

“Farmland in Singapore is limited and there are lots of unused pockets of space that can potentially be converted into productive ones. It doesn’t take up much space to grow microgreens. Being small and light, they can be grown on trays that can be placed on vertical racks. Going vertical means making better use of limited space. It also enables us to design a drip irrigation system that helps to conserve water.”

Q: What do you grow in your vertical farm?

“We grow microgreens like red amaranth, mizuna etc. Microgreens are ideal for small farms because they take up very little spaces. They are packed with nutrients and flavours, and can also be harvested as early as 6 days.”

Q: What is your day usually like in the vertical farm?

“We start working during sunrise because it is the best time to harvest the delicate microgreens when the air is still cool. After harvesting, we dispose the roots and used compost in our composting bin. After washing the trays, we sow new trays of vegetables and place them on the racks. The watering will be taken care by our automatic watering system. The rest of the day is spent doing other farm maintenance work.”

Ms Eng recalls being in the farm with her brother. SOURCE: INTERVIEWEE

Q: Have you always been interested in farming?

“I grew up in a farm and have been eating organically home grown vegetables before the concept was popular. When I moved to an apartment, I started finding ways to grow my own food in my balcony. After much experimenting, I find growing microgreens the easiest and most rewarding.”

Q: What are some of the qualities required for an individual to work in a vertical farm?

“Farming involves a lot of physical work in a hot and humid environment. We need someone who enjoy nature and is not afraid of getting their hands dirty. Farming also means they have to deal with bugs, so they cannot be too squeamish. Working at the farm also requires one to be observant and disciplined.”

Q: What were some of the challenges you faced with vertical farming, and how did you overcome them?

“As we make use of natural light, we had to work with existing light conditions to grow our microgreens. The highest level with direct sun is best for growing coloured greens whereas the lower racks are ideal for growing things like sunflower and peashoots. Our enclosed green house can get warm and humid during the hotter months, making it the perfect breeding ground for some pests. We have to take preventive measure like spraying organic pest control like neem oil.”

Q: As vertical farming contributes to global warming, there are debates if vertical farming should be continued. What are your opinions?

“Crops grown indoor obviously have high energy requirement, for instance from artificial light. While the cost of operating vertical farms is high and may have adverse impact on the environment, we can’t deny that the world is running out of spaces to grow food, and vertical farming can help to enhance food security. Hence, something positive is coming out of vertical farms.” 

Q: Moving ahead, what are your plans?

“We will like to have more similar farms in the different parts of Singapore so more people can come and grown their own food.”

4 thoughts on “Full Interview of Eng Ting Ting’s Why

  1. Hi Wei Qian,

    I think that the idea of vertical farming is a really efficient method for farming in Singapore, considering the limited land space we have. Small unused spaces can be used to grow food and this makes the potentially idle space more productive. However, I am curious to know how much more food can vertical farms produce as compared to a traditional farm (in the same area)? Also, will vertical farming be the best solution to “enhance food security”?


    1. Hello Jet! Thank you for reading my blog!

      To answer your question, if we are comparing the two methods on the same plot of land with the same area, vertical farming will produce a higher yield than traditional farming. This is because the vegetable beds can be stacked up. Thus, when land is scarce, vertical farming is definitely better at producing higher yields than traditional farming which requires a larger plot of land. However, when I asked Ms Eng during the interview regarding crop yield, she mentioned that the crops cultivated via traditional farming are generally larger. Thus, it depends on how do we quantify “more food”.

      In regards to whether vertical farming is the best solution to “enhance food security”, in my opinion, I’d think that because there are no absolutes in life, so it’s difficult to decide whether vertical farming is truly the “best” solution. But my personal take is that vertical farming is the future for agriculture, but it will take some time before vertical farming replaces most of the traditional farming practices. However, it is important to note that vertical farming requires expensive technologies which not all farmers can afford. So can the poorer farmers meet their food demand? Perhaps yes by buying food produced via vertical farming. But then again, they might not have the money to buy the food.

      P.S. Enjoy your recess week!

      Wei Qian

  2. Hey Wei Qian,
    An interesting interview you have there! Reading through this blog post made me recall on our field trip to Sky Greens because they applied vertical farming on their farm too. With land scarcity, a growing concern in Singapore, the only way to go is up. Hence I agree even though there are debates about the cons brought about by vertical farming, it can help to enhance food security which is very important. Also, vertical farming reduces the use of fossil fuels since there is not much use of farm machines! Can’t wait to read your subsequent blog posts as you find out more about other reasons why the people are doing what they are doing to save the environment 😀


    1. Hello Joey! Glad you had fun reading my blog.

      As the population increases, there will be higher land demands for infrastructures and whatnot. With limited land, land scarcity forces us to turn horizontal agriculture into vertical ones. The technologies of vertical farming are incredibly innovative and efficient. I am sure most of us acknowledge both the pros and cons of vertical farming. But I was reflecting recently and I thought that whenever we discuss issues pertaining to technologies, it is also important for us to ask ourselves if everyone would be able to afford them? And if not everyone is able to afford them, how should we bridge this gap, or are we even able to bridge this gap in the first place?

      P.S. Happy recess week!

      Wei Qian

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