Read more to learn more about the people involved in Sustainability @ Tampines Park, Singapore’s first circular ecosystem for sustainable food production.
[From left] Jonathan Poh from Otolith Enrichment and Jansen Quek from Apollo Aquaculture Group
Bet you never thought that you could get a discount in purchasing fish and vegetables farmed at your doorstep, through contributing food waste from your home?
Well, that’s the idea behind Sustainability @ Tampines Park, Singapore’s first circular ecosystem for sustainable food production.
The pilot project may be in Tampines but it involved multiple stakeholders across Singapore including commercial partners and government agencies.
In this first-parter of this month’s #ToolsoftheTrade feature, we talk to Jonathan Poh from Otolith Enrichment and Jansen Quek from Apollo Aquaculture Group to learn about their projects and the tools they use in their course of work.
Hi guys! Share with us what you do and your involvement in Sustainability @ Tampines Park.
BSF larvae (right) are used to break down food waste into fertiliser (left)
Jonathan Poh: Hello! I’m the Founder of Otolith Enrichment. We provide educational programmes and workshops in the areas of aquaculture and agriculture science.
At Sustainability @ Tampines Park, we manage the black soldier fly (BSF) facility in the bin centre. We collect food waste from residents and get the BSF larvae to work their magic on them. While the day-to-day work is our main job, we also do outreach on BSF in the green container set up outside the bin centre.
Jansen Quek: Hi I’m Jansen from Apollo Aquaculture Group (AAG). We specialise in intensive land-based farming of both ornamental and marine food fish & crustacean. We also help design and build high-tech farming facilities.
SFA approached us to convert the ornamental fish pond in Tampines Park into a food fish pond and we readily agreed to help.
Can you explain more about your project? What is its significance in the entire pilot?
Tampines residents contribute containers of food waste to the BSF facility
Jonathan: The black soldier fly (BSF) facility demonstrates the circularity of the entire project.
Using food waste from residents and the BSF larvae to break them down into fertilisers, you will get feed for the vegetables. The larvae itself can be used to feed the tilapias. Both the fish feed and fertilisers are currently in the testing stage.
Residents can then buy these produce with ‘green currency’ earned from contributing food waste via our Eco2Balance app.
The most significant part is the engagement of the community. The more people we involve, the easier it is to make sustainability our way of life.
Apollo officers setting up the tilapia farm in the pond
Jansen: Our role is to make the pond a home for tilapias. Why tilapias? It’s a hardy species that’s easy to farm. It’s also highly nutritious.
Some of the work we did include removing algae from the pond, installing pumps, bio filter mat (for filtration of water) and UV lights (to control bacteria in the water) as well as acclimatising the tilapia fingerlings. These are just the set-up. We also need to regularly monitor the water quality and check that the fish takes well to BSF larvae as feed.
The idea that we can farm the fish in their neighbourhood nudges them into thinking that ‘Hey! Farming doesn’t need to be all the way at Lim Chu Kang. It’s right at our doorstep.’
Converting the pond into a farm is significant because residents are used to having ornamental fish in the pond. The idea that we can farm the fish in their neighbourhood is novel and will nudge them into thinking that ‘Hey! Farming doesn’t need to be all the way at Lim Chu Kang. It’s right at our doorstep.’
How does your project help enhance food security?
Jonathan: We not only import over 90% of our food, we also rely heavily on imported feed and raw ingredients. To farm vegetables, we need fertilisers. For fish, we need feed. This is where BSF larvae can come in. Instead of importing that much feed or fertilisers, we can produce them using BSF and food waste.
There are about 150 tilapia fish in the pond at Tampines Park
Jonathan: Given that this is the first decentralised food waste facility, we are looking to do more in other neighbourhoods. We’ve had some queries already!
Jansen: If schedule and resource permits, we are keen to help develop similar ponds at other communities or parks.
Our current 8-storey fish farm facility, the first of its kind in the world, is nearing completion by early 2021. Together with our existing farms and partners, we will be able to produce more than 2,000 tons of fish a year when it is fully operational.
Tell us some of the tools of the trade you use in your course of work
Otolith Enrichment has about 60 to 80 volunteers to help out at the facility
Jonathan: Hardware, software and ‘heartware’.
Hardware refers to the equipment, facility and products that we have. The software is the app which we develop to track green currency. The ‘heartware’ is our community and steady group of volunteers who has kept the facility going for the past one year.
The ‘heartware’ is our community and steady group of volunteers who has kept the facility going for the past one year.
Jansen: Because of the nature of our work, the tools we use are rather technical. Other than our farming knowhow, an important tool is the filtration system – we customise and fabricate our own to suit each environment’s needs.
For this project in particular, I would also consider communication skills as another important tool – communicating with the town council on what’s required for the pond to be retrofitted and also communicating with curious residents on the dos and don’ts of the fish farm.
What do you hope the residents/public will learn from the pilot?
Jonathan: I hope to inspire the public towards sustainability efforts, by inculcating good habits in their daily lives for example to make the effort to reduce food waste and if there is any, to collect and send to us rather than conveniently throwing them away.
Jansen: I believe the project will help raise awareness on the importance of food security. By getting residents involved, they can better appreciate the farm to table process and support local produce.
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Last updated on Tuesday, April 14, 2020