With birth rates declining, we are seeing more school mergers taking place. One can’t help but wonder what actually happens for the schools that have closed down? Well, this former secondary school site has been planted with a new lease of life.
Tucked away in the former Henderson Secondary School is City Sprouts, an urban farm that serves as a place that brings gardening hobbyists, agri-preneurs, and agrifood communities together to experience the joys of agriculture and food.
There are a total of 6 food and beverage stalls here that serves some delicious meals that are definitely not your usual canteen fare. There are even monthly farmers markets that happen on-site.
What to expect at City Sprouts?
City sprouts is a social enterprise that aims to incorporate urban farming among our concrete jungle, while building meaningful relationships between communities. Here, you can find Singapore’s first plot-share urban farm, as well as several F&B concepts housed in the repurposed Henderson Secondary School canteen.
City Sprouts is all about sustainable farming and agricultural practices. They also lease out their farms to other local agri-tech farmers, to give them a little space in the heartlands to grow their crops and build a community.
On-site, there is also a vertical strawberry farm, Singrow, as well as Singapore’s only rice grower called The Little Rice Company, and Bewilder, a Mycological Design studio. As you explore the grounds, you’ll also realise that there are many greenhouses around. These greenhouses are owned by aspiring and experienced farmers.
If you have a neck for farming or have a keen interest in learning more and developing your skills, you can also rent a plot of land here and grow whatever you wish. If you’re worried that your plants might not grow as well as you hope, you can rest assured that there will be experts on the ground to offer advice and guidance. This exchange is exactly what City Sprouts hopes to cultivate and grow, on top of giving other aspiring farming enthusiasts a platform to explore and hone their skills.
Besides urban farming, there are also guided tours and workshops for all ages to attend, as well as educational events that talk about sustainability and local produce. If you happen to be there at the right time, you might even be able to participate in the harvesting process and score yourself some free fresh produce. If you prefer a more hands-on experience, you can book a tour or workshop starting from just S$25.
Not your usual canteen food
Everyone’s favourite place in school is always the canteen because that’s where all the good food is. Things are no different here at City Sprouts, except what’s being served in this canteen isn’t your usual recess grub.
There are a total of six different food and beverage stalls that sits at the heart of the building. You’ll also realise that the old canteen benches have been ditched for much comfier rattan chairs that give better back support, and wooden tables. While the place has undergone a makeover, the warmth of communal dining and the nostalgia of dining in the canteen is still very much present.
The food served here are all aesthetically plated and are made using fresh and tasty ingredients. Don’t be surprised if you find that these shops use ingredients freshly harvested from the farms.
One thing about the canteen setting remains, that is the pocket-friendly school prices. Here, a nice heart-warming cup of joe will set you back just S$1.50, while mains go for around S$10. There is also a wide variety of cuisines served here. Whether you’re craving a filling Japanese rice bowl from O-Kome or looking for a hearty sandwich from PARK Café, there’s definitely something that can soothe your appetite here.
There’s also something for the kids and for dessert too, like the sweet treats offered by Pyroast. If you’re in the mood for some local delights, you can also enjoy a bowl of Hakka Yong Tau Foo from Pang’s Hakka Noodles.
Ordering food here works the same as in any other canteen or food court. Simply head over to the shop you want to order from, place your order and collect your food. Then, head over to your seat and let your chatter fill the space while you enjoy your meal.
Monthly farmers markets with 25 participating vendors
As we have seen during the past two years of the pandemic, relying on foreign imports for our food supply isn’t good enough. We still need some local produce to tide us over when the need arises.
Hence Singapore has embarked on a journey toward ‘30 by 30’ – to build up Singapore’s agri-food industry’s capability and capacity to produce 30 per cent of our nutritional needs locally and sustainably by 2030.
City Sprouts offers gives you the chance to get in on the action. Apart from letting you explore the farms on-site, there are also monthly farmers markets to let you have a taste of some of the freshest greens of the season, as well as some heirloom fruits and aromatic small-batch home bakes.
You’ll also be able to shop for some pretty ornamental plants and other artisanal crafts. There will be a total of 25 participating vendors, which changes every month. For the latest vendors update, head over to City Sprouts’ Instagram for more information.
Participating vendors in July’s farmers market include The Little Rice Company, Green, Mushroom Buddies, Fumbles & Jumbles, Flora Folks and French Ah Mah Kitchen. Admission to the farmers market is free so grab your family and friends and explore the farmers market.
An important note is the farmers market has a BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) policy to reduce the use of plastics. But don’t worry if you forgot a bag as there are bounce bags that have been donated by the public for you to use too. The market also accepts cashless payment options like PayNow so you don’t have to worry about bring cash too. You can also shop using the shopping coupons which you can buy online or at the door.
If you’re looking for a unique activity for the kids, or just a new place to chill and explore, City Sprouts is certainly a place worth visiting. You can chill and chat over some hearty affordable grub in the canteen or keep the kids entertained with an informational weekend learning journey through the different farms and workshops here. If you’re lucky even get the chance to participate in the harvesting process!
Address: 102 Henderson Road Sprout Hub, Singapore 159682
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm, Daily
Website: City Sprouts