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Three new enterprises are hoping to spark interest in a low-tech but high-quality way of making things– by growing their own produce, making their own drinks or curing their own meat.

Open Farm Community


It isn't by chance that celebrity chef Ryan Clift's new restaurant– Open Farm Community– is set in a 35,000 sq ft garden in Dempsey, nor is it for the sake of a natural ambience. As its name suggests, the space is really a microcosm of entrepreneur Cynthia Chua's grand plan to make urban farming a reality in Singapore.

A reformed naysayer, she is now out to prove by example that commercial and responsible farming is possible in a land-scarce city like ours.

She believes that not only can enough be grown to reduce our existing carbon footprint and dependence on imports, but it can also be a viable career option for young millennials looking to make a difference.

"For an urbanite, when you see something, first you have a lot of obstacles in your head. You ask: 'Are you sure you can grow eggplants in this weather?' So it was an interesting subject for me because I was just like everybody else, but I've embraced the vision, and now we're executing it," says Ms Chua, who is chief executive of the Spa Esprit Group, which runs Common Man Coffee Roasters and Tiong Bahru Bakery.

Its collaboration with chef Clift consists of a 120-seat restaurant, plus a large outdoor space where it is working with social enterprise Edible Garden City to start a farm growing herbs and vegetables like chilli padi, radishes, eggplants, sweet potatoes and Mexican tarragon.