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Urban Agriculture for Singapore? Addressing resource, economic, environmental and social sustainability in Singapore Presented by: Heather Chi

Contents 

Singapore : issues ahead  

Brief overview of urban sustainability 

 

The urban ecology model

Case Studies: London, U.S. and Japan Urban agriculture for Singapore?  

Global trends and current concerns Urban agriculture and sustainability

Opportunities for agricultural development Perspectives on urban agriculture and land use policies

Open areas for research

Singapore: issues ahead Resilience: The ability of human communities to withstand shocks to physical, economic, environmental and social infrastructure and to recover. (W.N. Adger) Food Sovereignty: The ability of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own resource policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the ability to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. (Adapted from IAASTD and Via Campesina “Food Sovereignty�.)

Singapore : issues ahead Currently, the world is faced with severe food and water shortages, a financial crisis and a rising population.  Massive land purchases in Africa  Launch of comprehensive “food sovereignty” and “low carbon, green growth” strategies on the international level and in many countries  Shifts to locally-situated production strategies to enhance resource security and build community capital worldwide

Singapore : issues ahead Critical areas of concern 1)

Resource security: Currently importing 97% of food; agricultural industry centered on food for export, flowers and aquarium fish; lack of hinterland as ‘buffer zone’ in times of resource crises. Vulnerable to supply shocks and depletion of natural resources in unstable trade and capital regime Limited knowledge, skills and capacity with regards to local food production, water harvesting and large-scale waste recycling

Singapore : issues ahead Critical areas of concern 2)

Economic security: Worldwide trend towards sustainable development and promotion of “green” industry; quality of life and ownership to retain and attract talent Development of green industries, including food waste-toenergy generation and composting, can position Singapore as a hub for sustainability practices in future Develop of multifunctional ‘foodscapes’ such as farmers’ markets and community farms, can enhance liveability of the country and attractiveness to residents, potential residents and tourists Diversification of economic capacities and urban environment wherein private, public and people sectors play a key role in sustaining Singapore

Singapore : moving forward Critical areas of concern 3)

Social security: Widening social inequality, social apathy and isolation, integration of migrant population, emigration of talent, aging population.  Initiatives such as community based urban agriculture create unique social spaces for interaction between residents from all walks of life  Creates opportunity for residents to supplement their incomes and supply of nutritious and fresh produce, while simultaneously boosting their physical and mental health  Provides opportunities for skills and knowledge development in resource management and food production, and hence potential employment

Summary: Urban Agriculture and Sustaining Singapore In summary, the potential contributions of urban agriculture to Singapore’s sustainability include:  Food sovereignty: the ability to secure critical resources through the development of local capacity – knowledge, skills and technology – in food, water and energy production;  Economic diversification into primary sectors: expanding employment and educational opportunities in sustainability industries directly related to supporting the country’s environmental health and development;  Productive and liveable environments: developing multifunctional environments, including agro-industrial areas, farmers’ markets and community gardens, that provide ecological services, reduce waste and pollution, and are visually attractive  Community involvement and sustaining commitment to development: giving all citizens a direct stake in sustaining the country and themselves through participating in resource management and food production can build a cohesive society

Background 

Focus on principles and ideas, rather than results

Information on urban agriculture initiatives in Singapore and London have been obtained through academic research and direct involvement with agriculture initiatives, on a volunteer basis, in both countries

Information on urban agriculture initiatives in Japan and Indonesia have been obtained through academic research and news reports

Further research required to gauge feasibility of abovementioned urban agricultural initiatives in Singapore

The urban ecology model 

Developed by Abel Wolman and Peter Newman

Emphasizes the way in which the city itself resembles an environmental system and hence should integrate waste, water and nutrient recycling as key aspects of its urban management

Urban resources - inclusive of air, water, infrastructure, food and fuel - should be utilized in a closed-loop, rather than linear, system wherein a significant proportion of the city's outputs are recycled within the city energy system to create value and sustain its growth.

Case Study: London “London allotments to get ÂŁ100K of public funds to encourage people beat the financial crisis by growing their own food. 1300 plots covering 76 football pitches have been slated, with improved security (ranging from metal gates to defensive plants), improved drainage and water systems, new and clear demarcation for plots and pre-preparation of vacant plots (putting proper soil).â€? - The London Paper, 22/01/09

Case Study : London London’s Food Strategy  

Launched by Ken Livingstone in May 2006 Six key objectives:  improve Londoners’ health and reduce health inequalities via the food they eat  reduce the negative environmental impacts of London’s food system  support a vibrant food economy  celebrate and promote London’s food culture  develop London’s food security Local Food is a body funded by the National Lottery which has a budget of £50m. for food growing projects. Applications must be not for profit – the fund is open to new and existing projects – all project applications can benefit from advice from Local Food advisers. Small grants from £2000 - £10,000; main grants up to £500,000.

London’s Food Strategy 

(1) Securing consumer engagement 

Promote and expand opportunities for small-scale food production for individuals and communities through gardens, orchards, schools, allotments and parks and open spaces 

E.g. Olympic Park, Capital Growth, Growing Communities

Promote and support London food events and festivals that celebrate the quality and diversity of food in London and ensure that food plays a stronger role in the wide range of other events and festivals held across London every year 

E.g. Real Food Festival, Making Local Food Work Conference, Taste London Festival, Slow Food Market

“2012 food spaces for 2012 Olympics!”

London’s Food Strategy (2) Ensuring commercial vibrancy

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Planning and development support for identifiable and beneficial economic food clusters in London, such as restaurant clusters in Brick Lane and China Town, or manufacturing clusters at Park Royal, as well as continued support to London’s many town centres

Balanced use of the spatial planning system to support the differing needs of retailers of all sizes, including markets, so as to support the overall objectives of the Food Strategy – network of established and temporary Farmers’ Markets and street hawkers

Better promotion of food tourism and food culture, domestically and internationally – in particular by strengthening this aspect of London’s brand through Visit London’s marketing and promotional activity.

Foodscapes for everyone!

London’s Food Strategy 

(3) Leveraging the power of procurement 

Continue to increase the amount of organic and local food provided through public sector services in London in response to growing consumer demand*

Improve smaller producers’ access to public and private sector contracts. The ability of producers to engage in greater collaboration and co-operation is important and networking events between producers and procurement officials in London should also be developed.

London’s Food Strategy 

(4) Developing Regional Links 

Encourage innovation among producers to meet the demand from London’s consumers through, for example, product diversification (such as ethnic foods), organic food production, ensuring high standards of production and quality and promoting biodiversity

Encourage producer collaboration and cooperation in order to share ideas, marketing costs, fund product innovation and enable access to public and private sector procurement contracts

London’s Food Strategy 

(5) Delivering Healthy Schools 

Improve children’s access to healthy, quality food outside of school meals by improving the provision of fresh fruit and access to fresh water in schools; support and piloting the introduction of green/healthy vending machines; and establishing/expanding school breakfast clubs  E.g. Food for Life Partnership: food and sustainability education through farming and food preparation

Increase the number of schools taking part in farm/city farm visits

London’s Food Strategy 

(6) Reduce food-related waste and litter  Establish kitchen waste collection schemes. This will require further work by the London Boroughs to engage households, expanding collection services and, crucially, installing the infrastructure required to support the processing of such waste 

Research the attitudes, awareness and behaviours of Londoners towards food waste and explore the effectiveness of incentives to reduce food waste

Encourage composting and/or recycling by London’s major food markets

*Relates to urban ecology and overall urban sustainability

Other Western initiatives 

Edible Cities  

Study of NYC and Milwaukee Chicago (Sustain) Imaginative and productive ways of growing without access to subsoil, either in raised beds on hard surfaces or, in one case, in hydroponics on a barge; Inspiring use of a sustainable approach to fish farming in an urban area which produces marketable quantities of tilapia. Using the many possibilities of urban tree planting to promote traditional varieties of fruit and nuts; Untapping the potential of both Royal Parks and other parks to accommodate some food growing in their grounds; Exploring under-utilised spaces such as derelict council property, private gardens and social housing to grow food; Making use of the abundant buildings in urban areas to grow food on rooftops, up walls and in window boxes; Building on the food growing expertise that already exists in a multicultural community, as well as providing education and training for new growers.

Other Western initiatives 

Growing Round the Houses (UK) 

Food growing programme in public housing estates John Scurr Community Centre in Limehouse, London: Large wooden growing boxes are allocated each growing season to members of the community and integrated into a park area with a community orchard Food Up Front: Works social housing residents to help them grow salad and herbs on their balconies, windowsills and front door steps. Each household that signs up to the scheme receives a growing box with compost, seeds and a growing guide, and a network of street representatives provides support with skills and advice on planting and harvesting

*Planning Aid provides advice to developers, NGOs and Residents

Other Western initiatives 

Edible Roofs  Part of Boris Johnson’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan for London  Food gardens absorb water, helping to mitigate and manage urban flooding, provide green oases for people, plants and wildlife; improve air quality; and insulate building occupants from heat and sound. Green roofs can also save building owners thousands of pounds extending the life of roofing materials by preventing rapid and excessive cooling and heating, and protecting materials from harmful ultraviolet light.

Edible Estates  Replacement of the domestic front lawn (balcony?) with a highly productive edible landscape  “A practical food producing initiative, a placeresponsive landscape design proposal, a scientific horticultural experiment, a conceptual land-art project and, a community out-reach program”

Urban agriculture and land use policy in the Greater London Area 

 

400 farms in the GLA area, occupying 30,000 acres (15% of territory). Smallholdings averaging 70 acres Key issues for ”green belt” farmers are finding opportunities for diversification and direct marketing. All farmers share similar problems as: competing demands, crime & antisocial behaviour such as vandalism, labour problems, fragmentation of land, complaints from neighbours, environmental health & food safety concerns. Recommendations from National Farmers Union: Increased dialogue between farmers and urban planners; solutions for mixed land use; markets – farmer involvement with the London Food Strategy, link up environmental strategies with food policy.

Case Study : Japan 

1999: Japan had 4.8m ha of farmland (13% of national land) with 110,000 ha in urbanization promotion areas (UPA) and 1.15m in urbanization control areas (UCA) 

UCA: Secure tenures, 850 000 ha identified as good farmland and incorporated in Agricultural Land Use Area - for which assistance in agriculture would be concentrated UPA: Farmland owners allowed to convert or sell farmland for non-farm uses without recourse to agricultural land law – increased flexibility Productive Green Land Law as added layer of protection to farmland with multifunctional uses, e.g. land providing crucial ecosystem services, tourist attractions, etc.

Case Study : Japan 

Trends in urban areas – Nerima Ward (Tokyo), Fuchu City (Tokyo), Osaka-Kobe Suburbs 

Farmland acreages decline while proportion of part-time farmers (including working adults) increased Sales moved from wholesale markets to more local places such as joint-sale shops, restaurants, schools and street stalls Support for green areas provided by urban agriculture increased Production shifts from staples to specialized production of vegetables, gardening trees and plants

Case Study : Japan 

“Green Potato” Rooftop Farms: production of staples/vegetables for local consumption, creates cooling effect

Pasona 02 Underground Farm: Built in former bank vault in central Tokyo, hitech, grows rice and vegetables 24/7, engages office workers and temps, open for view till 6pm

Case Study : Japan 

Ozu Corporation Plant Factories 

Countrywide warehouses that produce immaculate vegetables 24/7 Veggies for domestic consumption Up to 3 million tonnes of vegetables produced by plant factories annually No pesticides used and not risk of contamination by food poisoning bugs

Urban Agriculture in Singapore? 

1970s: 25,000 farming families 

Today: Local food production in 274 farms covering 0.75m hectares  

Fish, quails, goats, frogs, vegetables, fruits, flowers Located in Lim Chu Kang, Mandai, Kranji, Yeo Chu Kang, current agriculture or agri-tainment land uses

Kranji Countryside Association represents 20 farms commercial production and agritainment - in the Lim Chu Kang - Kranji area 

80% sufficient in poultry, 100% eggs, 104% pork

Highly entrepreneurial in organizing shuttle bus service, combined goods delivery, farm visits and farm stays

Individual farmers and permaculturalists operating commercial businesses and social ventures including Go Organic and Ground Up Initiative

Urban Agriculture for Singapore? 

Opportunities for agricultural development in Singapore 

Skills and expertise with aging, but active, generation of farmers as well as innovative and entrepreneurial permaculturalists

High temperature and high humidity levels good for growing tropical crops

No need for more land - pilot projects on urban agriculture and community-based urban agriculture can be carried out on currently zoned land and/or within residential estates and school premises

Current research into urban agriculture conducted by professional academics and practitioners at NUS, AVA, Nparks - network of expertise to tap into

Local organic farms 

Green Circle Organic Farm   

Organic Veg Box Programme Kampung Senang Rent of allotments to families

Go Organic Farm 

Only farmer certified organic by Soil Association Has developed sophisticated box permaculture techniques, makes own organic fertilizers, pesticides and compost Developed farms in partnership with hotels, schools, prisons

Community-based agricultural Balik Kampung: Balik Kampung is a initiatives Ground Up Initiative is a local collective that currently conducts two agriculture related programmes in Singapore, as well as a workshop on the use of garbage enzyme.

SURF (Sustainable Urban Farms): Surf is an initiative for sustainable community gardens by volunteers at bottle tree park.

weekly farming programme involving 30-40 people. Their aim is to not only grow food, but also to build bonds of friendship through shared effort and community food preparation.

Other food related initiatives in Singapore  

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Alpha Biofuels Sustainable food: Vegetarian Society, Cielo Sereno, Food 4 Thought (NUS), Meatout for One Day a Week Campaign Growing organic retail industry Soup Kitchen: Food #03 Fighting hunger: Kampong Senang, Food from the Heart, Food for All, Cuff Road Project More details: Food Report 2008

Urban Agriculture for Singapore? 

What about land use constraints? 

Underutilization of existing land: Farmers on existing agricultural land find it difficult to farm productively due to restrictive land use policies, and would like to develop land further to contribute to national development

Productivity of organic agriculture: Organic agriculture has been proven to increase agricultural productivity in African pilot projects (UNCTAD, 2009); organic methods preserve soil nutrients to conserve environment for longer-term, enabling further development or future adaptation of land

Innovative agriculture technology: Local farmers engaging in innovative techniques such as organic box permaculture maximize use of limited land

Community-based urban agriculture: Local groups use of private gardens and underutilized agricultural land to involve residents in food growing, preparation and enjoyment activities

Urban agriculture in Singapore? 

Issues faced by local farmers:  High capital outlay needed to afford lease  Insecure tenure - pressure to quickly profit, and unwilling to invest when unsure of ability to secure same plot of land in long-term  High maintenance costs - lack of credit facilities to obtain funds to employ workers, operate refrigerators and greenhouses, etc.  Complicated procedures due to limitations of current agricultural land use regulations - requires costly premiums to ‘upgrade’ to agritainment or incorporate other facilities  Little local awareness of farming --> Not asking for more land but requesting for assistance to maximize productivity and develop diverse functions on existing agricultural land

Urban agriculture for Singapore? 

Urban agriculture and land-use policies 

Review of current land-use legislation and development controls governing the use of agricultural land

Consider layout plans that indicate the areas within the city in which urban agriculture is allowed, including guidelines from planners regarding the type of urban agriculture

Inclusion of space for individual or community gardens in new public housing projects and private building schemes: New housing development could plan for communal space for agricultural activities. In the case of the planned conversion of agricultural areas for other land uses, the urban farmers could be supplied with alternative lands (land swaps), provided this is feasible given Singapore’s land constraints.

Urban Agriculture in Singapore? ď Ž

Urban agriculture and land-use policies ď ą

Permit use of temporary land: City areas could potentially be reserved by giving these areas to community groups, farmer cooperatives and/or unemployed people on a medium term lease for gardening and other agricultural purposes (purposive specific leaseholds). The government could lease vacant land/ or derelict urban areas to neighbourhood groups or local micro enterprises for gardening and food production.

ď ą

Promotion of multifunctional land use and encouragement of community participation in the management of urban open spaces: Under certain conditions food production may be combined with other urban functions such as recreation, water storage, nature conservation, and firebreak zones. Potential farmers may be encouraged, through economic incentives and education, to participate in the management of such areas, which may reduce the public costs of managing these areas.

Urban Agriculture for Singapore? 

Other national policy perspectives  The creation of an appropriate legal framework for urban agriculture;  Stimulation of policy and action-oriented research onto urban agriculture, including research on the functioning of informal networks in agriculture, technologies for the safe re-use of urban wastes and waste water, space confined and water saving technologies, integrated pest management and other ecological farming practices, small scale food processing techniques, etc.  Facilitating awareness raising among public, private and people sectors that provide best practice  Co-financing of city urban agricultural programmes

Food Strategy for Singapore? 

Promoting local food industry and food culture

Leveraging on existing network of farms, agricultural expertise and retail associations to develop a diverse and multifunctional network of food and agricultural spaces

Encouraging links between farms, schools and the F&B sector to promote greater awareness of nutrition and sustainability

Create a healthy and sustainable closed loop food system through promoting the recycling of organic waste and redistribution of excess food, while striving for food sovereignty

“ Food is our common ground, a universal experience.� - James Beard

Q&A Thank you for listening!

Urban Agriculture for Singapore  
Urban Agriculture for Singapore  

A short presentation on ideas for urban agriculture in Singapore.