Meet Singapore’s Veggie Farming Family

Xiao Xi: [In Mandarin] When people ask me what my family does I will tell them My dad grows the vegetables my mum cooks the vegetables my brothers sell the vegetables and I just eat the vegetables. Coincidentally, our surname is Chai (vegetables) too. XX: Hi everyone, my name is Chai Xiao Xi. KC: Some people call me “Old Chai”. I am a farmer. Ms Chai (Xiao Xi) is my daughter. XX: We are located in a very remote part of Singapore called Lim Chu Kang. Our farm is called Fireflies Health Farm. KC: Many people come here looking for fireflies but I will tell them that is just our name. They say that it is too misleading to name the farm ‘fireflies’. Then I will question them if you are named ‘Ah Hua’ or ‘Xiao Hua’ (flower) Apart from being friends of farmers fireflies need a very natural environment. We don’t use pesticides or any chemicals at our farm so maybe one day fireflies will return to our farm. KC: I have seen some fireflies before. Producer: When do you spot them? KC: Night time, of course. [Laughs] KC: We grow all kinds of vegetable in our farm. XX: We also have “hipster” vegetables like What’s that? You should check that out on Google. KC: I started farming in 1985. Personally, I am scared of pesticides. It is not something I would like to have in my food. I was thinking since I grow vegetables why not produce beneficial vegetables for everyone? We started with small plots of land where we don’t use pesticide. To my surprise, the vegetables turned out well and I was confident to let my family consume it. In 1998, I decided to convert the whole farm into an organic farm. XX: It was all or nothing for him. He just implemented the changes instantly. I remember it happened when I graduated from secondary school. Every day I would help to build the greenhouse structures but I had no idea if he had any plans. KC: My motivations are very simple. “To eat with a peace of mind, to eat healthily.” My kids have all grown up. They decided to set up their own business to sell lei cha (thundertea rice), a healthy dish. You Zhao: I am Xiao Xi’s younger brother. Our stall is called Thunder Tree. My dad grows vegetable and I turn it into a delicious bowl of Hakka thunder tea rice for our customers. Most of our ingredients are delivered directly from our farm. We use the freshest vegetables from our farm in our thunder tea rice. We hope that our customers can eat with a peace of mind and eat healthily. XX: If you ask me how my parents inspired me I feel that (it’s because) my dad my mum and subsequently, both my siblings have put everything into their careers. Honestly speaking, there are easier alternatives to earn a livelihood but why do we persist? Why do we continue to uphold the principle of “To eat with a peace of mind, to eat healthily”? To continue working in such a tough and non-mainstream job I feel that the motivation is the love we have for nature and people. I hope we will be able to bring some warmth to the society.

33 thoughts on “Meet Singapore’s Veggie Farming Family

  1. HAHA cute family! The father's decision to make the farm organic wasn't a small decision. He earned my respect as he believed in himself and carried out his plans even though his family was not too sure what he was trying to do as evident from what the daughter said. Really glad everything worked out in the end and the family is still able to uphold their life motto without being swayed by monetary gains!!

  2. If you bury sardine or anchovy heads in the soil,your organic vegetables will grow better.Excess milk leftovers and eggs water mixture is also good fertilisers,so is river mud.

  3. This is definitely one of your best stories. Admiration, respect and cheers to this Vegetables (Cai/ Chai) family.

    Human principles and determination will bring out goodness for society. This is one such example.

    Hope that many more people with good hearts and good intentions will come forth to fight against all odds and bring forth a healthy mind and body and a real healthy nation.

    All the best to Cai family members in their drive towards a healthy diet for everyone.

  4. It is tough to maintain and sustain an organic farm to grow veggies.Many who started with a bang had given up.Not many people would pay more for organic veggies until their health deteriorates.

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