Saturday, 8 February 2014

NONG, the farm on a rooftop carpark. And, my fermentation workshop!


A month ago, I made some toast and got to know some Singaporeans doing pretty amazing things at the same time. Singapore is a country short of space and short of people wanting to rub their fingers in dirt, so pretty much all of our produce is imported. It's tough going all 'local, seasonal and organic' here, and I'm not of the slightest silly romantic mindset here that it's ever going to happen. But it's nice to take a step towards that, and if not, at least learn and appreciate that food comes from the soil, not air-conditioned shelves. 

Bjorn (in photo) and Rob founded Edible Gardens to get people thinking, talking and hopefully actually growing, even if it's just in a few little pots in the backyard. They design, build and maintain edible gardens in spots all around Singapore– for schools, restaurants, hippie home-owners and the like. NONG is their latest venture. In a month's time, the top of People's Park Complex is going to be the coolest carpark in Singapore– Asia's largest urban rooftop farm. Right smack-bang in the middle of Chinatown.


Even right now, it's pretty much the coolest carpark I know. The farm's not fully ready yet, but the Edible Gardens team has set up a wicked popup space, giving workshops, hosting events, and promoting work by local designers and crafters. I got to know of NONG a little before everything started (primarily because I needed to nick quite a bit of mint for my toasts), and it's wonderful to see how the space has developed with the help of random people keen to volunteer muscles and/or ideas. The people I got to know are some of the warmest, most passionate people I have met– Bjorn, microgreens-pimping, tattooed hippie; Cynthea, yummy mummy with the craziest ideas...

I've been there quite a bit– to steal mint, to showoff to holidaying friends ("Singapore's cool!"), to cook for a photoshoot, to recipe-develop, to attend workshops on gardening, and now, to host a workshop myself (in return for all the mint I nicked I guess).


Before the pretty stuff went up

A cook-off using local produce and herbs from NONG for local magazine One Day Journal. 
There was a Noma-trained chef but I was really only scared of the housewife ;)

So. Fermentation workshop. Next Saturday,15 Feb.

In two hours, we will make the oh-so-trendy kimchi and oh-so-tricky Nyonya achar. It is hands-on and you will get to bring home two jars of your own (artisan, handmade, quality etc.) hard work. It will be fun. Please do spread the word and come make funky veggies with me :)

Sign up here 
Come make funky veggies!

And check them out
NONG by edible gardens
Edible Gardens

Also check out

38 comments:

  1. It looks like a fun workshop. I would definitely join you if I lived nearby.
    Happy Sunday!
    Angie

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    1. I wish you lived nearby- I would love to meet you one day! (please bring some of your beautiful homemade cakes in tow ;) )

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  2. You are really making your mark in Singapore's food scene and I love it. You're definitely making a difference with all these initiatives. Cheering you on!

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    1. Aw! You're so sweet! I'm making the tiniest of marks maybe; these people are the ones who really are on to something and it's so great to be able to work with such fantastic people while I'm in Singapore. Thanks wince!

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  3. This is awesome, are you back in Singapore for good now? Your projects are always so vibrant and exciting!

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    1. I'm likely back in London end of this month.. starting to really love Singapore though :( And thank you!!

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  4. Go Bjorn and Rob! And go Shu! You're all doing great work!! Bit by bit, Singaporeans will take pride in local produce. You're fermentation workshop sounds delightful, but I'm stuck in Seattle and will have to live vicariously through your excellent photography and beautiful artwork!

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    1. Aw thank you I'll pass on your kind words to them! Hope we're shaking things up a little ;) And I wish you could be here too..one day! x

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  5. Wonderful blog! Thank you for following my great friend, Gene over at Fledging's Gourmet blog. Quality readings from quality people.

    -Travis

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    1. Thank you Travis! And love Gene's blog too :)

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    1. Thank you! Wish you could join us :)

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  7. very cool and all the best for your workshop

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  8. What a wonderful initiative! Rooftop gardens are an excellent idea especially with such places as Singapore, having restricted space...
    The pickles sound obviously excellent! Fermenting is so much fun! I would love to follow your workshop, but I will content myself with inspiration you have given me. Let's see what else can I ferment this week... (PS I confirm: we have a special telepathic link!).

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    1. I thought it was brilliant, and especially brilliant to see people getting into this. A few years back this would have been unheard of, most people haven't really got the idea of farming or sustainability on their minds, and it's so great to see that everyone's starting to learn and be more interested in where their food comes from.

      Thanks sissi! Planning for a batch of kimchi and achar for 20 tmr, yikes!

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  9. Sounds fantastic Shu Han! So glad you are enjoying being back in Singapore and taking the food scene by storm at the same time. I'm sure the Fermentation workshop will be a huge success. I would so love to go. I know zilch about fermentation.

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    1. Lol 'by storm'- hardly! It's been fun shaking things up a little. I would so love if you could come :( I would chuck you giant jars of kimchi and achar!

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  10. How wonderful, good luck with the fermentation workshop, I'm sure it'll be great!

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    1. Thank you! Fingers crossed! Planning the logistics and workflow now and it's scary yikes!

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  11. The fermentation workshop sounds so much fun! I grew up eating homemade pickle (Sichuan style with fermented brine) and I know how delicious it can be! Keep up the good work!! Would love to stop by if I ever move to Singapore :)

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    1. I'll need your Sichuan style pickle recipe Yi;) It sounds fantastic!

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  12. Oh my gosh, I am the biggest fan of your achar, as you know, and I make it regularly. And had I still been living in Singapore I would DEF have wanted to come and spend today making it with you! I hope it all went well. What an awesome project to be involved with - the People's Park Complex was all shades of awesome before - I wish I could come and see it now!

    On another note, I got my copy of the +65 cookbook today! (I ordered it in late Nov I think - but it's wonderful that it took 3 months to arrive, because it must mean that demand vastly outnumbers supply - meaning that you guys are SUPER successful! Right?!) Anyway, I sat down and read the whole thing cover to cover without even taking my coat off. It's even more beautiful than I had expected, and I cannot wait to cook from it. It's almost exactly two years since we left Singapore, and we still talk about the place (and usually the food) every day. In fact, I made a shit-hot chicken rice just last weekend because we all had a serious craving!

    So, y'know, thank you. xx

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    1. Aw thank you so much Mimi! It was a blast :) So much fun meeting like-minded people and making giant basins of kimchi/ achar together! Chinatown is such a busy fun place, and I find it completely nuts that there is now this little peaceful (sort of) oasis of green and cool stuff happening on a rooftop carpark smack bang int he midddle of all this craziness!

      Yikes I've heard there's been terrible delays. Sorry about that! We're chasing out distributors to get thier shit together so everyone can have their books soon! Hope you get your copy soon, and do let me know on fb/instagram/twitter/this blog/whatever how it goes if you try anything! So excited for you! The chicken rice sounds amazing :)

      Thank YOU. xx

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  13. I love rooftop gardens -- they are not only a clever use of space and wonderful way to source from nature but they also represent a certain romance for me... a find them so beautiful and dreamy. Fermentation is something I have to do more; such a brilliant way to extract the best from food -- all of those wonderful living organisms and so easy to achieve too. What an inspiring post Shu!

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    1. Thanks Kelly! There is something romantic about them isn't it, that little oasis of calm/green amidst a crazy city. I find it completely nuts, and awesome, that there is one gigantic one here, right smack bang in the middle of Chinatown.
      Fermentation is one of my favourite things to do with vegetables in season- adds so much flavour and nutrition to one's meals, and so fun to know you are sort of 'growing' something :)

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  14. What a cool project! Will you still be there to take photos of it all once it's established a bit more? I'd love to see it. I adore things like that... you can have a normal looking building in the middle of a city, and yet if you look at the roof you suddenly see that it's like a green paradise!

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    1. I won't be there unfortunately but it's going to be a permanent thing and I will definitely be back in Singapore! It is completely cool isn't it! I love it!

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  15. I'm totally ovin your workshop Shu....
    i guess you've got a the most fresh greens there, which is from your own rooftop garden!!!
    lucky you my friend...

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    1. It's still not too common in Singapore, the idea of urban farms/ gardens but it's def catching on! Thank you!! Sorry for the incredibly late reply.

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  16. Wish I could go make some funky veggies now! Looks killer!

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    1. Ah you don't need a lesson you're probably well-versed in kimchi-making :p

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  17. I'd love to attend one of your workshops some day... I know I'd learn a lot of new techniques!! Hope the fermentation WS went well ;-)

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    1. Oh I would love for you to come !! Maybe one day we will finally meet.It went well, phew!

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  18. Our dear friend Shu Han continuing to make waves in the food scene of Singapore. Good on you!!

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    1. Aw! Ripples more than waves, but thanks wincee!

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  19. Heya! Love your blog! Thanks so much for posting about the Singaporean organic scene too, it's my first time reading about it and I am really impressed :))) I had my own 'UK tomato' experience too and now you've got me looking forward to some real tomatoes in SG, haha!!!

    :D

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    1. Thank you!! Your comment made my day. Sorry it took me forever to reply. I don't know if you have/follow on instagram, but I visited this rooftop farm on top of Scape park in Orchard road the other day, and had a heirloom berry tomato. It was SWEET. You had no idea how excited I was.

      :D

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