Paradise Found

Far from the madding crowds of the city, Singapore’s Kranji countryside is a calming getaway that allows people to discover a different way of life.

BY Cara Yap
PHOTO The Straits Times/SPH Library

T

he chitter of birds and chirr of insects dance over rows of brinjal plants, exotic fruit trees and dewy flora displaying vibrant hues. A lush rainforest resort far from the Lion City? Hardly. You don’t have to buy a plane ticket to experience such tropical idyll.

Blossoming in the lesser-trod northwest of Singapore, the Kranji countryside is made up of a cluster of some 100 farms. The bucolic getaway is around 22km from the city centre, and thanks to various farm tours run by William Ho – the owner of a quail farm himself – city dwellers can get close to nature as well as their food sources.

From learning how organic produce is grown and enjoying a farm-to-table meal at Bollywood Veggies (pictured), to observing goats being milked at Hay Dairies, a visit to the Kranji countryside is not just an introduction to Singapore’s agricultural industry, it also raises questions on food sustainability, and harnessing our natural environment. In an opinion piece, Ivy Singh-Lim, vice-president of the Kranji Countryside Association – a non-profit organisation that promotes local agriculture and conservation – expressed the need to preserve Singapore’s countryside.

“Our small size should not be seen as an obstacle to food security and sustainability – it should be seen as an advantage, as local farms can truly be integrated into our urban and peri-urban landscape seamlessly,” she wrote.

“ Local farms can truly be integrated into our urban and peri-urban landscape seamlessly. ”

Ivy Singh-Lim

While Kranji’s farms, most of which are family-run, occupy less than 1 per cent of Singapore’s land, there is optimism that being immersed in nature will inspire its visitors to care for the environment and perhaps even become urban farmers with a modicum of self sufficiency.

This may not be such a long shot. On a typical weekend at Bollywood Veggies, locals and tourists can be seen learning how to pot herbs, create art from recycled plant matter, and prepare a meal sourced from the garden.

It seems that agri-tourism is gaining traction here. Jan Orenstein, an American who recently visited the Kranji countryside, sums up the whole rural experience: “I’ve always associated Singapore with tall buildings and modernity. This trip has shown me its simpler side.”




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