EXCLUSIVE: AmHydro Announces 8 New Rooftop Farms To Be Built in Singapore

EXCLUSIVE: AmHydro Announces 8 New Rooftop Farms To Be Built in Singapore

AmHydro, which designs and builds hydroponic growing systems all over the world, has just announced that it is starting construction of 8 rooftop greenhouses on a building complex in Singapore. In total, the farms will cover over 35,000 square feet. The first greenhouse is expected to go up this March, and begin producing plants by the summer. In a country where most food is imported at a premium, these new greenhouses will be a significant addition to the local urban agriculture movement.

The project started about two years ago, when AmHydro was approached by ComCrop, a local urban farming company known for having Singapore’s first urban rooftop aquaponic farm (where fish are raised along with crops). ComCrop converts previously neglected rooftop space into vegetable growing farms, bringing much needed local produce to supermarkets and restaurants around the heart of Singapore.

 ComCrop’s CEO Peter Barber

ComCrop’s CEO Peter Barber

“ComCrop needed to take their production to the next level, so they contacted us,” said Joe Swartz, Vice-President of AmHydro. “We’ve been working with ComCrop on the design of an 8 building farming complex, and just after January first of this year, they decided to go ahead and launch.”

The first greenhouse is anticipated to be up and running sometime this summer. It will be 7,000 square feet, and is expected to produce 330,000 plants a year. The entire 8 farm complex is expected to be completed by around this time next year, and will span more than 35,000 square feet of rooftop space. Some of the crops that will be produced include basil, mint, wasabi, and sorrel.

This exclusive announcement on Agritecture.com comes just after Joe Swartz surveyed his followers on twitter to guess which city would be next: 

Singapore imports over 90% of the food consumed within the country. Only 8% of all vegetables are produced locally. This leads to high food prices, and makes the country extremely susceptible to price shocks from foreign markets. Recently, however, a fast growing urban farming movement has been starting to change this imbalance.

 A farm worker tending to the crops at one of ComCrop's rooftop farms.

A farm worker tending to the crops at one of ComCrop's rooftop farms.

Like in many other cities around the world, Singapore’s urban farming movement, which started out mostly as community gardens, is now seeing a fast uptick in high-tech commercial urban farms that use innovative farming techniques such as hydroponics to take further advantage of unused urban space. Singapore’s government has also gotten onboard, offering funding for R&D and putting vertical gardens in their national parks.

To design and build their new rooftop growing systems, ComCrop CEO Peter Barber explains that “ComCrop chose AmHydro over competing systems because they are best suited for our rooftop environment and will deliver the best yields in Singapore’s unique climate.” He also adds that “the new greenhouses combined with AmHydro growing systems will significantly increase our yield and allow us to sell higher volumes and larger varieties of leafy green vegetables to local customers.”

 AmHydro growing system in use at Sky Vegetables, the Bronx.

AmHydro growing system in use at Sky Vegetables, the Bronx.

AmHydro (American Hydroponics) has been designing and building hydroponic farming systems for over 30 years. About 6 years ago, they designed Sky Vegetables Farm in the Bronx, NY - the first rooftop greenhouse to be built on public housing in the US. Currently, AmHydro has one project in development within the US, 2 more in Europe, and yet another in Asia.

“We’re going to keep seeing a large increase in urban and suburban farming around the world,” says Joe Swartz. But as he sees it, urban farming is going to continue to involve a wide variety of farming models. “It’s not necessarily going to be all rooftop farms, or all vertical farms,” like some in the industry like to predict. Different locations have a variety of local contexts that make certain models of urban agriculture more preferable to the others. “Hydroponics will be the primary growing method, due to a lack of fertile soil in urban areas. But in terms of the model, it is really going to be a diverse set of growing techniques.”

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