My guest this episode is the super-talented and creative gardener and designer Brent Purtell and we’re talking about the Capitaspring Rooftop Garden in Singapore, which shares the ‘2nd highest’ building ranking along with 3 other buildings, all the same height. There are 3 gardens on the building, covering an area of 10,000 square feet and containing a mixture of ornamentals and edibles, all growing at dizzying heights. Brent was involved on the build and design side before he became the Head Gardener, overseeing the maintenance of Capitaspring Rooftop Garden.
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What We Talk About
What is the Capitaspring Rooftop Garden and where is it located? How much growing space is there in total?
The kind of things which grow in the garden
How productive a rooftop edible can forest be
How the produce is used
The challenges of growing edibles on a rooftopWho visits the garden?
About the Capitaspring Building & Gardens
The Capitaspring building was completed in early 2022. At 280m high, it shares the ‘2nd highest’ building ranking along with 3 other buildings, all the same height. This is due to Singapore having a cap of 280m on any new building. It’s owned by Capitaland, a major property developer in Singapore and the region. Designed by BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, and Carlo Ratti, it is very much a flagship building for the company and Singapore in general, with the relatively unique use of planting throughout the building. Current tenants are the big investment house JPMorgan, for example.
Within the tower are three restaurants. These are:
‘Sol and Luna’ on level 17 – a casual latin inspired theme
‘Kaarla’ on level 51 – Fine dining coastal Australian
‘Oumi’ on level 51 – Fine dining Japanese
Originally there was no concept of a ‘food forest’ or similar from the architects, and indeed, the chef’s garden only takes up 50% of the overall rooftop space, with the other 50% planted in typical ornamental, low maintenance fashion. Rather, the addition of the edible section came from 1 Group, who reached out to a local company, Edible Garden City Pte Ltd to help with the design and installation.
Edible Garden City was started in 2012 with the aim of ‘helping Singaporeans grow their own food’. It has 3 pillars to the business, one being food production at 2 ‘urban farms’, which supplies produce to many restaurants through the city, including many Michelin starred. The second pillar is education, which runs workshops for the public at the aforementioned urban farm, along with onsite workshops for teachers in schools across the city. Thirdly, they design and build edible gardens, with over 260 built to date. The majority of these are gardens built within schools so that the students have access to a working garden, however many gardens have been built for commercial/hospitality venues, including the famous ParkRoyal Hotel, Marina Bay Sands etc. The remaining founder Bjorn Low, is a very recognised figure within Singapore for his environmental efforts.
The garden was opened in Feb/march 2022 and so is still quite new and produces approx 70 – 80 kgs of produce a month. For example, here is a breakdown for October:
Apple mint 200gm
Brazilian Spinach 19.6kg
Fame Flower 1kg
Lemon Balm 800gm
Lemon Myrtle 1.5kg
Moringa leaves 10gm
Kaarla Salad mix 12kg
Wasabina Mustard 1.5kg
Wild Water Cress 15.5kg
Mizuna Mustard 1.5kg
Oyster Leaf 500gm
Wild Pepper 500gm
Pumpkin x 3
Edible flowers 2kg
And here are a few of the ways the kitchen use them all:
- KAARLA CLOSED LOOP SALAD – ROOF TOP LEAVES AND FLOWERS, TIGER NUT CURD, DAIKON
- WESTERN PRAWNS, GERALDTON WAX, NATIVE TAMARIND
- ARDEN GROWN TIGER NUT ICE CREAM, TIGERNUT NOUGATINE, WHITE CHITOSE CORN, CALAMANSI JELLY, POACHED ORANGES
- AUSTRALIAN MARKET OYSTER, FIG LEAF AND OYSTER PLANT VINEGAR 8PP
- SESAME CRUST TUNA SERVED WITH WOOD-FIRED PADRON PEPPER, LEMON MYRTLE DRESSING
- LOBSTER DONABE – Garden Komatsuna, Tofu, Shungiku, Chestnut, Mitsuba, Seafood Dashi
- KOHITSUJI YAKI – Grilled Australian Lamb, Red Garlic Sauce, Lemon Myrtle, Lemon Balm, Calamansi, Satsumaimo
- UNI IKURA – Sea Urchin, Salmon Roe, Wasabina, Yuzu
- CHIRASHI Sashimi Of The Day, Daily Produce From Our Food Forest
- BUTA KAKUNI – Braised Australian Pork Belly, Fresh Yuzu, Fame Flower, Eringii, Egg Yolk, Mountain Caviar
- SHIO KOJI TEPPAN CHICKEN – Free-Range Chicken , Sansho Koji, Garlic Flower, Curry Leaf
The ‘Kaarla closed loop salad’ in particular is popular as a signature dish.
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