Monday, November 5, 2012

Bollywood Veggies in northwest Singapore

From front to back: blue and orange sweet potatoes, pineapples and several types of bananas growing at the Bollywood Veggies organic farm in northwest Singapore. All of them can be bought at the farm and enjoyed at their lovely but curiously named bistro called Poison Ivy. I had one of my most delicious lunches in Singapore there - which is an achievement in this food-obsessed city. Yum!
With population density of over 7500 inhabitants per square kilometer, Singapore comes clearly second to New York, where 10200 people are expected to happily cohabit on a same-sized plot. So it comes as no surprise that for someone like me who grew up in Finland where only sixteen people roam on a similar lot, Singapore feels quite like a well-organized ants' nest. Still, I couldn't agree less with some of my fellow expats - I don't like that epithet at all, but use it here in lack of another, short description of us people living our lives outside the countries whose passports we carry -  who regularly complain that Singaporeans never touch the soil, but only travel from their high rise apartments via the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport system, a local term for the underground system) to their air conditioned workplaces.

Bollywood Veggies' charming and knowledgeable guide Anthony Hopkins (a proud Welshman), giving us a lecture about the development of bananas.
Anyway, I could not agree less with them, and I am going to prove that. I've already posted about how Singaporeans live in their parks and gardens, using them as their own exercise venues, places of meditation and contemplation, and for having fun with their families and friends (actually, another post is under progress...). Also, there are numerous gardening clubs and societies, offering advice from vegetable and fruit farming to bonsai growing - all adapted for citizens who often have only a balcony to play with. And one thing is for sure, the people making claims about Singapore only being about shopping and glitz have certainly never visited Kranji countryside in the northwest part of the island, west of the Johor bridge to Malaysia. Here, several organic vegetable farms mingle with koi, frog and goat farms, and all of them their produce on ths spot or sometimes even deliver to your home. Of course it would be naive to believe that their would be enough for the whole population of Singapore, but they make a serious effort. As a by-product, they educate visitors, especially kids, about the virtues of growing your food and taking care of the planet.
A week or so ago, I had a scrumptious lunch with some Finnish ladies at the bountiful Bollywood Veggies farm in Kranji; their organic bistro Poison Ivy serves everything but noxious delicacies. Sadly, I forgot to take my camera, so I have very limited visuals from the visit. But lesson from this post is that as you see only what you want and expect to see - so if you think that Singapore is only about malls and shopping, get out from your bubble and open your eyes, and you'll be richly rewarded. Happy gardening!

Tunnels growing several types of exotic looking beans; ginger and bananas in the background. Bollywood Veggies grow hundreds of species from papayas to aloe vera, bitter gourd, long beans, snakegourds, tapioca, wintermelons and many more. They also have a herb garden with Indian borage, dill, basils, lemograss and other Asian herbs. Many fruit species like crystal fruit, breadfruit, butterfruit and papayas thrive on the farm, together with medicinal trees like horseradish tree and West Indian pea tree. A visit here is highly recommended!

No comments: