Never in former engineer Benjamin Swan’s wildest dreams did he consider being a farmer, but here he is today, the co-founder of Sustenir Agriculture, a patented farming system that grows high-quality produce with modern technology.
“I love that we are doing our part to offset the impact of traditional farming on the planet,” he says. “One of our sayings at Sustenir is ‘growing impossible food in impossible places’ and I guess that sums up our attitude when it comes to dealing with adversity.”
The high-tech, vertical farming facility uses a combination of advanced methods in a controlled environment, which cuts production time by half. The non-native crops, which include kale, arugula leaves, cherry tomatoes and recently, Singapore’s first locally grown strawberries, are tightly packed in tiers, surrounded by the glow of LEDs. Other than being the first ISO 22000-certified indoor farm in Singapore, Sustenir Agriculture also became the first of its kind to present at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome in 2016.
The idea came to Swan when he chanced upon an article for vertical farming and he pondered over how it could be improved, especially for land-scarce Singapore. That same evening, he experimented with designs on his computer, eventually inventing the now-patented growing system.
Jumping from a stable career to starting afresh as a farmer in a sunrise industry was a huge risk but as Swan shows, it was well-worth the effort.