This afternoon we took a long Uber ride to the northeast corner of Singapore. It’s farm country, green and lush, and also the quietest place we’ve been since we’ve gotten here. There’s not a single building over one story tall to be found — and what buildings do exist are pretty few and far between. Our destination was Bollywood Veggies, a farm with a restaurant called Poison Ivy (not sure who is in charge of the naming here).
This one of those places that calls the term “mad genius” to mind, because it was started in 2000 by a woman who decided to ask the Singapore government permission to start a farm in the middle of nowhere. They said yes, and then she began petitioning them every single week on a variety of social and environmental issues. She’s taken stands on workers’ rights, stray animals, housing, farming, waste, even donkeys’ rights (I didn’t know this was a problem). And you know this because her views are well advertised all over the place. Half the fun here is the farm, but the other half is definitely the signage.
Let’s just say that this is not your usual Singapore fare.
The farm itself is a lovely hodgepodge of fruit trees, herbs and vegetables. There’s a huge educational section, with well-labeled plants and large walking paths.
There are fruits and flowers everywhere.
Even the bathroom is green — this is the area next to the sinks:
We had an Indian vegetarian platter for dinner, which is largely made from veggies straight from the farm (and liberally spiced with the chiles they grow).
Our cab ride home was fascinating — it turns out that our cab driver grew up just a few kilometers from the restaurant, back when the area was all farms and his family lived on a coconut plantation. He told us about the government claiming eminent domain over the land, giving the farmers compensation, and selling them HDB flats at a discount. When I asked him how people felt about that, he was very diplomatic; he replied, “you didn’t have a choice.” He also provided really interesting commentary about the forests, cemeteries, military bases, and neighborhoods by which we drove on our way home.
When we got to our condo complex, our cab driver said, “this used to be HDB blocks — but the government tore them down when they realized the land was valuable and they could get more money from developers. There used to be a market center right in the middle of your building.” It’s strange to know that people were displaced so that I can live here. I’m still mulling that over.