Interview: Derrick Ng

What inspired you to start farming?
When my son, Ryan, was much younger, he was often ill with the common cold and flu. He was typically treated with antibiotics, which I believe weakened his immune system even more. I decided to invest in organic food. However, organic food is more expensive, so I decided to grow my own vegetables. Over time, I found that Ryan’s health was improving. I grew my vegetables in mini plots along the corridor outside my home. This caught the attention of my neighbors who gave me words of encouragement and even asked me to grow vegetables for them. With the support of my family, friends and community, Generation Green was born.

Why did you decide to specialize in vermiculture (worm farming)?
Because commercial fertilizers tend to be, in my opinion, artificial and costly, I started research into more environmentally friendly fertilizers, with a focus on reducing waste and recycling. In the course of my research, I was happy to find that vermiculture employs the assistance of worms that work tirelessly to convert organic waste into valuable resources for plants. It is the beginning of the food chain.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted?
A bowl of hot soup filled with home-grown vegetables in Taiwan. The soup was sweet and the vegetables crunchy. This is why I continue to choose not to use commercial fertilizers for my Generation Green crops.

How do you handle all the farming on your own?
Just do it! Be focused and persevere. I’m constantly encouraging our younger generation to join me. And I keep my eyes open for innovative ideas and farming methods that would increase yield and productivity.

What can be done to make local food more accessible?
The government can support agriculture and set aside funds for SMEs that want to focus on agriculture. The key factors discouraging agriculture in Singapore at present are land costs—for land that is sub-let from a private company or the government—and a shortage of skilled and unskilled labor.

Who are your biggest collaborators and partners in spreading the message to eat local?
Specialty food store Nothing But Green, farm operator Kranji Agri Vista—Hong How Group and distributor Grower Synergy.