As our taxi drops us off at the latest addition to Dempsey, we look around, bemused. This isn’t the Dempsey most people know. Where are the restaurants, the bars, the gourmet grocers and yuppie hangouts? All we see are squares of green. Spearmint, stevia, eggplant and more sprout from a patchwork of plots; metres away a farmer is tenderly watering a cluster of sweet basil.
Welcome to Open Farm Community, the newest, coolest project in Dempsey, Singapore and, yes, possibly JB. It’s an urban farm, art park, organic store and restaurant all rolled into one – and if that’s not enough to keep you entertained, you can play lawn bowls too. The 40,000 square foot space is a collaboration between the Spa Esprit Group and Edible Gardens, and aims to “inspire people to get connected” with the origins of the products they use and the natural environment, says Spa Esprit CEO Cynthia Chua. Here’s what you can do on-site.
LEARN ABOUT URBAN FARMING
More than 30 types of fruit trees and over 12 kinds of edible flowers are currently being grown at OFC, a concept three years in the making. And you can learn about them here via fun classes and activities by Edible Gardens. What’s also interesting to know: The farm is supplying Spa Esprit Group’s Strip parlours with lemon balm plants that customers can help themselves to, to squish and sniff for a calming effect. It’s also developing formulas that use aloe vera as a soothing agent after a Brazilian wax, and passionflower tinctures to be dissolved into teas served in spas.
EAT AT SINGAPORE’S HIPPEST NEW RESTAURANT
Naturally, whatever is grown here is harvested regularly to feed the project’s farm-to-table and farm-to-beauty concept. At the beautiful greenhouse-styled on-site restaurant, led by Tippling Club’s award-winning Ryan Clift, chefs head out into the garden each day with buckets and scissors to gather the plants and work them into the menu, which focuses on seasonal ingredients. It’s good stuff too: At a recent tasting, we devoured a warm salad made with farm-fresh Minden mint, sugar snap peas, pine nuts and crumbled feta, and this lovely, buttery lemon tart garnished with local basil and basil ice cream.
…THEN EXERCISE IT OFF
Indulged too much? Don’t worry – two lawn bowl lanes and an al fresco table tennis set-up (all FOC) mean you can sweat it out after pigging out.
SIP AND SHOP
A takeaway store just in front of the restaurant is where you can grab a cup of Common Man Coffee Roasters coffee, or organic products including kids’ toys and knick-knacks imported from around the world. How handy!