The social entrepreneur describes what sustainability means to him and where urban farming in Singapore can help besides ensuring our food security
Even with the limited agricultural land in Singapore, Bjorn Low has managed to carve a niche for himself as an urban farmer. The Gen.T 2017 honouree is helping the country reduce its reliance on imported vegetables, herbs and flowers through the social enterprise Edible Garden City, which he co-founded in 2012.
For one, Low has designed and built more than 200 food gardens for hotels, restaurants and schools, including Capella Singapore and Pathlight School.
Edible Garden City also runs a farm where it grows its own fresh produce in a sustainable manner—instead of tossing out the agricultural by-products, it turns them into fertiliser for crops. The farm currently supplies to over 40 local restaurants and bars, and also offers its harvest to consumers through a subscription-based Citizen Box programme.
Besides looking after the plants, Low also nurtures the socially disadvantaged, such as individuals with autism, by employing them at the farm.
He shares his take on sustainability and vision for the future of Edible Garden City here.
On his journey as a social entrepreneur
"I’ve learned that everything is impermanent. Things are constantly in flux in the sense that what may seem good today may wither and die the next, what may look bad today may blossom and bear fruit tomorrow. So I’ve learned not to take change too seriously."
On why he thinks sustainability is an overused word
"Terms like environmental sustainability can be seen as an oxymoron, as the environment would be better off if there weren’t industries polluting or robbing it of its resources to begin with. My idea of sustainability is about striking a balance: to not take anything in excess, to return back what I’ve taken whenever I can, and to leave some for nature and the next generation."
My idea of sustainability is about striking a balance: to not take anything in excess, to return back what I’ve taken whenever I can, and to leave some for nature and the next generation
On why he loves nurturing things, but plants more than people
"As our business grew and our team expanded, I realised I wasn’t an effective manager. It’s my personal development goal now to learn to nurture the people in our company and industry like how I care for the plants in my garden."
On constantly trying to redefine what urban farming means to Singapore
"We’ve developed Urban Care farms, which let us produce vegetables while helping to improve people’s mental well-being. Our goal is for urban farms of the future to heal our body with the food we eat, heal our mind with mental wellness activities, and heal our soul by repairing our environment through regenerative agricultural practices."