Land is a luxury that Singaporeans cannot afford. An island country of only 710 square km is already home to 5 million people. No wonder, Singapore’s skyline is thick with skyscrapers. In this high-density urbanized island, where 93 percent of food is imported, the notion of farming seems not only crazy but downright implausible. Yet, an ambitious entrepreneur says he can produce five times as many vegetables as a regular farm does right in the heart of Singapore’s thickly populated central business district. Thanks to his radically new farming technique, Jack Ng’s city farm is able to produce 1 ton of fresh veggies every other day, providing citizens a new and sustainable source of locally produced goodies.
Jack Ng’s technology is called "A-Go-Gro," and it looks like a 30-foot tall Ferris wheel for plants. Trays of Chinese vegetables are stacked inside an aluminum A-frame, and a belt rotates them so that the plants receive equal light, good air flow and irrigation. The water powering the frames is recycled and filtered before returning to the plants. All organic waste on the farm is composted and reused. Water wheels are gravity aided, which take little electricity. According to Ng the energy needed to power one A-frame is the equivalent of illuminating just one 60-watt light bulb.
The whole system has a footprint of only about 60 square feet, or the size of an average bathroom. A total of 120 such towers has been erected in Kranji, 14 miles from Singapore’s central business district, with plans for 300 more, which would allow the farm to produce two tons of vegetables per day. Ng wants to build over 2,000 towers in the next few years.
Ng sells his produce under the name SkyGreens in grocery stores, providing consumers an alternative to imported products. Although SkyGreens produce costs about 10 percent more than the shipped vegetables, they are reportedly "flying off the shelves," according to Channel NewsAsia - perhaps because the vertical veggies are fresher than most available in Singapore.
Sky Greens venture is supported by the Singaporean government as it will allows the island to become more self-sufficient as a food source. Jack Ng believes his system could be adopted around the world, especially in Southeast Asia.
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