In this series of light-hearted interviews, BiTES celebrates homegrown food companies headed by their next generation of family members. We get a glimpse of the stories behind the brands and the personalities in the boss’ seat.

Share a fond memory of your great-grandparents/grandparents.

My great-grandparents passed away when I was very  young. Grandfather was strict and grandmother was  very hard working–even when she was in a wheelchair,  she would still go out to the farm to help out.

When did you first help out on the farm?

I used to guide the farm tours when I was in JC and   dabbled in operations beginning of this year. The turning  point for my decision was in 2014–I was completing  my Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary  Photography at London College of Communication  when an investor wanted to buy the farm. I decided then  I couldn’t take it for granted that the farm would be here  forever and to join seriously before it’s too late.  university, but I’ve only really joined the farm and  dabbled in operations beginning of this year. The turning  point for my decision was in 2014–I was completing  my Masters in Photojournalism and Documentary  Photography at London College of Communication  when an investor wanted to buy the farm. I decided then  I couldn’t take it for granted that the farm would be here

How is like working with your family?

I’m currently working with my uncles, aunties and  parents. One of my cousins and my younger brother  are helping out too. While it can sometimes be tricky  working with such a big family, there are definitely more  ups than downs. It’s also great that my relatives are really  understanding and flexible too. Whenever I’m offered  photography assignments overseas (I still do freelance),  they will help to cover my duties on the farm.

Share with us your day to day activities.

I live on the farm to save travel time so I can sleep in  till 8am. If we have tours in the morning, I would help  prepare the free vegetables to give away to visitors.  My third uncle, who is very forward-thinking and a  self-taught engineer, is actively passing on his  knowledge in the production aspect to me. There  are days where we conduct experiments on the  greenhouse and crops; other times we are cloning our  herbs. There isn’t a fixed task; every day differs.  forever and to join seriously before it’s too late.

What’s your main business strategy?

We started growing local greens first like xiao bai, chye  sim, and kang kong. Eventually, we grew cool season  veggies like butterhead lettuce, which is one of our best  selling vegetables, and finally herbs in 1996. We supply  our greens to NTUC under the housebrand, PASAR.

What are your future plans for Oh’ Farms?

Right now, the future is uncertain. The current land lease ends in 2020 and AVA might take back the piece  of land, which means we would need to find a new plot  of land, starting everything from scratch.

What are your strongest skills?

I won’t say I have any particularly strong skills. I think  the most important thing is my deep interest in breeding  and learning about the greens and herbs–that’s what  keeps me motivated in contributing to the farm and to  constantly grow my knowledge in farming.

Are you active on social media?

Yes. I’m doing my best to build up Oh Chin Huat  Farms’ accounts now. You can follow us at @ohfarms  on Instagram and Oh Chin Huat Hydroponic  Farm Pte Ltd on Facebook. My personal Instagram  account (@orehuiying) is most active when I’m overseas.

Can you cook? What’s your signature dish?

Yes, I learnt how to cook from an Italian housemate  when I was living and working in London. I would  like to say my signature is risotto (laughs), but I think  that’s a bold statement, so let’s keep it to pumpkin  rice (laughs).

If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life,  what would it be?

Century egg and pork porridge! It’s a very comforting  food. I like the one from Telok Blangah Market and  Maxwell Food Centre.

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THE BRIEF STORY OF OH’ FARMS

1960s

Started off as a  coconut plantation  in Yio Chu Kang by  great-grandfather, Oh  Chin Huat, who had  seven sons working  together with him.

1970s

In 1973, the government acquired  the land for housing redevelopment  and they moved to Punggol to  start a pig rearing farm, where  approximately 100 family members  lived and work together. The pigs  were flown in from America.

1980s-1990s

Due to noise and environmental pollution,  pig rearing was eventually banned by  the government and they suffered huge  losses. “My eldest uncle decided to go into  hydroponics farming–we were one of the first  in Singapore–in 1991 and went to Taiwan to  learn more about hydroponics farming.”

2000s

Opened Butterfly Lodge,  as her uncle enjoys  macro photography  and shares it with fellow  hobbyists. The lodge  is used for educational  purposes.