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Turning to Sustainable Agriculture to Fulfil Cooking Endeavours – Anton’s Journey to Seeding Change

Wong Jin Yue, Anton, SUSS full-time Logistics student posing with freshly harvested bok choy at the SUSS Experiential Urban Farm.

Fuelled by a lifelong passion for cooking passed down from his father, Wong Jin Yue, Anton, voiced his determination to overcome challenges in cultivating his culinary produce. Believing that the key to creating appetising dishes lies in its ingredients and realising our everyday supermarkets lacked variety, Anton ventured into home-based agriculture to grow fresh and unique crops curated around the needs of his cooking endeavours.

Anton’s exploration into agriculture at home with hydroponics proved to be no easy feat. He faced a concerning challenge with many of his crops as they failed to survive. He found himself navigating through this challenge and shared that contrary to popular beliefs, plants will not take up any nutrients if the hydroponic setup is oversaturated with them. He had to ensure that the crops he grew were receiving the optimal amount of nutrients.

This prompted him to participate in SUSS’ Ecopreneur Innovation Programme (EIP), formerly known as Agripreneur Incubation Programme (AIP). Started in 2022, EIP recognises the need to develop agri-sector businesses to work towards the nation’s 30 by 30 goal of achieving food safety and security. In this programme, students gain basic farming knowledge, experience different farming techniques, and generate solutions and turn them into business ideas. At the end of the programme, students showcase their innovative solutions through a bazaar.

DIY laminar flow hood created by Anton and his brother.

Over a three-month period, Anton was in an educational haven. He found valuable agricultural insights, learnt about plant biology, nutrient requirements, and essential practices for successful cultivation.

Inspired by the lessons taught during the sessions, Anton was motivated to advance his agricultural pursuits as he discovered the remarkable digestive abilities of mushrooms. With his newfound revelation, he embarked on a new venture, cultivating mushrooms using organic waste. Anton also roped in his brother on this quest, combining knowledge he had gained from the programme and his brother’s expertise in microbiology. The duo went through painstaking trials by adjusting the growing medium, equipment, and sanitation methods in their protocols. This resulted in an ingeniously crafted DIY laminar flow hood, effectively mitigating contamination risks associated with mushroom cultivation.

Wong Jin Yue Anton, together with EIP participants at the EIP Bazaar 2023.

After months of extensive training and mentorship to develop solutions for agricultural challenges and cultivate business ideas aligned with these solutions, Anton capitalised on his culinary proficiency during the bazaar. He presented experimental recipes, such as Mushroom Soup and Focaccia Bread, with the intention of incorporating home-cultivated mushrooms into his future culinary ventures.

In conclusion, Anton emphasised to potential programme participants, "While there is undoubtedly hard work involved, and you may find yourself engaged in some back-breaking labour, that is not the sole objective. The aim is to provide you with an immersive understanding of the challenges farmers face, enabling you to develop innovative solutions to help them."

Take the first step towards a sustainable future— join Ecopreneur Innovation Programme today! Let's collectively sow the seeds of change and cultivate a world where agriculture not only sustains us but also enhances the planet we call home.

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