Singapore Management University (SMU) starts urban farming initiative

The Singapore Management University (SMU) launched its GROW initiative to encourage more sustainable living in Singapore. The programme aims to cultivate food and encourage more to pick up gardening.

At the launch of the GROW initiative, SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer and Mayor for Central Singapore District Denise Phua joined hands in planting two saplings of the nutmeg, which has long history and deep significance to the area surrounding SMU, Central Singapore District, as well as Singapore and Southeast Asia, were planted. Once an important commercial crop with versatile uses and plantations in Bras Basah and Orchard Road, the nutmeg reminds the University of its roots and mission to educate the next generation to be pillars of the society.

With its GROW-initiative SMU goes back to basics, advocating that transformative education begins with ‘U’ sowing the seeds and taking grounded steps to make a difference – in building a green and sustainable community for tomorrow.  SMU GROW believes that the simple act of planting can inform and shape views on life, society, sustainability, trade and development. Aiming to cultivate change through experiential and reflexive learning, the programme joins a global urban farming movement that seeks to create global awareness on environmentalism, food production, consumption and security. It is also intended to promote sustainable urban living, provide for underprivileged members in the community, and enrich SMU’s holistic, broad-based education.

People across all walks of life – students, staff, faculty members, residents, and business partners – can take part by planting crops at two plots of land outside SMU’s School of Accountancy, which have been set aside for the university-wide urban farm programme. It aims to not just grow a garden of food but build a greener future and better lives for the community eventually.

“We actually offered the students the opportunity to get a real world understanding of what sustainability is, what green is all about,” said SMU President Arnoud De Meyer. “But at the same time, I hope that also people from the neighbourhood, maybe some of the elderly people that work and live here in the neighbourhood, will come and join us and will work with us on these gardens. And if that succeeds, then probably we will get a very good integration between our young students and maybe some of the people that live here.”


For a start, the initiative sees down-to-earth activities taking root. The rollout includes conducting workshops for staff and faculty that introduce sustainable living through growing foods in environmentally-friendly ways, having planter boxes up for adoption, serving healthy meals to staff, and running a logo design contest. SMU GROW will be dovetailed with the 80-hour community service required of SMU students, and built into the annual community service project SMU Challenge that delivers food and household needs to residents. It will also be woven into co-curricular activities (CCAs) and classroom modules. Food from each harvest will be brought to the community organised by The Centre for Social Responsibility (C4SR), and GROW welcomes individuals and groups to garden and grow food for a good cause at SMU.

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