Singapore has wholeheartedly embraced the farm-to-table trend and there are plenty of restaurants with their very own gardens to prove it. Open Farm Community is one of the forerunners of sustainable dining on the island. It is among the eateries that continuously amaze through their innovative spirit and a firm commitment to sustainability. With a holistic approach based on localization, transparency, and social responsibility, OFC propels the farm-to-table philosophy to a new level.
Open Farm Community is a collaboration between the head chef Oliver Truesdale-Jutras, sous-chef Phoebe Oviedo (both from Ottawa, Canada), the Spa Esprit Group , and the award-winning food garden specialist Edible Garden City . The result is a successful combination of a refined eatery, urban farmland, and an educational platform.
Tucked away in the green surroundings of Dempsey Hill, a popular locals’ weekend destination, OFC is an oasis of calm and serenity. With its warm earthy tones, grass-green chairs, timber floors, and patterned tile walls, this rustic industrial space has a welcoming, laid-back vibe. The open kitchen where diners can watch the chefs at work in green premises, both figuratively and literally, perfectly mirrors OFC’s business transparency.
Huge floor-to-ceiling windows allow the restaurant to seamlessly expand into the alfresco sitting area in the 35,000 sq ft garden brimming with herbs and vegetables. The chefs grow more than 100 produce types including okra, eggplant, rosemary, and passionfruit. Maintaining an urban farm makes it easy to control the amount of produce to grow and reduce waste to a minimum.
The OFC menu is 80% local, with supplementary ingredients sourced from farms less than 400 km away. The seafood from the waters off Pulau Ubin island is delivered within six hours of harvest from the sea to guarantee its freshness. A few ethical imports fill the remaining supply gaps. For a country that produces only around 10% of its food supplies, this is a rather impressive achievement.
Guests can expect a menu full of farm-fresh ingredients in exquisite combinations such as the fried cauliflower “wings” tempura with miso caramel glaze, chili black sesame seasoning and green onion. Another signature dish is the watermelon and wild honey salad made from locally grown watermelon, raw jungle honey from Malaysia, and frozen goat’s milk from Hay Dairies, Singapore’s only goat farm. For dessert, don’t miss the fantastic Singa’Smore. It subtly combines a banana torte with tamarind fudge, caramelized sourdough ice cream, and five-spice. Most of these perfectly executed dishes are customizable, plus there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
Open Farm Community is nonetheless aware that sustainable practices need to extend well beyond food. Any restaurant business that prioritizes ethical practices must consider all the nuances of sustainability and social responsibility, waste being among the most important ones. And OFC rises to the challenge. It spares no effort to recycle, reduce single-use plastic, and limit water and electricity usage. It also inspires and encourages the guests to do the same.
At the heart of OFC’s business is a simple philosophy: providing Singaporean urbanites with a space to reconnect. This practice is intended to be twofold. On the one hand, the menu is designed to be shared with friends and family. Meals are seen as the principal arena for engaging with one another. But there is also a bowling lane, a ping-pong table, and a small playground in the garden to encourage interactions.
On the other hand, OFC advocates the establishment of a close relationship between community and producers. It celebrates local farming and local spirit by emphasizing the direct connection between the restaurant and the farms, while supporting a network of local and Southeast Asian organic growers. The eatery regularly invites local farmers to showcase their produce and create a unique bond with the guests.
Open Farm Community represents farm-to-table dining at its best. Besides serving flavorsome hyper-local dishes, they see themselves as part of a larger picture. The sources and processes that go into their products are as important as minimizing their impact on the environment. OFC also knows that being truly sustainable is inseparable from working with and supporting local actors. To grow food means to reconnect with nature, conserve natural resources, and cultivate a sense of community. Their dedication to sustainability is real. And that makes their food taste all the more delicious.