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Milestones of Bollywood Veggies’ Development
Ivy and Ho Seng’s beloved friend Michael dies. The tragedy spurs the couple to stay on in Singapore to look after friends. What better place to retire but in your own country…
There's farmland in Singapore?!? The couple tenders for 10 acres of land in Kranji with Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).
The duo successfully wins the tender, and inherits a weedy plot of swamp with a small road through it. When inquiring about the condition of the site, the civil servant replies “Too bad lor.” No matter, they press on.
Land officially becomes theirs… so now what? Get out the bulldozer.
After tidying up the site, the duo decides country living is the way to go. “The AVA thought we were crazy,” Ivy says. “But hey, who needs golfing and life in a boring house only- green acres baby!” They plan for a house, ponds for fishing and rowing, sheds, workers quarters, café… Singapore's first ‘integrated resort'.
AVA approves their plans… finally. Building begins!
The house is finished, just in time for Ho Seng’s 58th birthday.
The couple moves in with their two dogs.
Land gets further developed with plants, ponds, infrastructure, and additional buildings. So now it’s time for a restaurant! What will the AVA say about that?
AVA says yes!
Poison Ivy Bistro opens its doors. Smell that fresh air… and yummy banana bread!
Ivy and a group of Kranji farmers give a regional development presentation to Minister Vivian Balakrishnan. He likes the ideas (a man of good taste!) and shortly thereafter, the URA guidelines are changed to include agricultural entertainment (“agri-tainment”).
Kranji Countryside Association (KCA) is established to represent interest of the farming community, and to work with government on planning a bright future for Singapore’s agricultural region.
Ivy steps down from being President of Netball Singapore to focus on guiding the KCA’s next steps, and making Bollywood blossom. Pass the whisky darling!
Bollywood boleh! The farm flourishes and the KCA comes into its own. With Ivy’s 60th birthday looming, she ponders what’s next. How about a museum and a cooking school? Hey, why not?
The Gentlewarrior turns 60 and celebrates in style, with the opening of the BollywoodBhanchha and Food Museum. The Bhanchha reveals a wealth of culinary knowledge on Southeast Asian cooking to visitors and exists to revive a respect and interest in the sophisticated and holistic cuisines of the region. Native spices from the garden outside complement any cooking class. Concurrently, the food museum showcases a history of food and agriculture in 24 descriptive paintings by Czech artist Vera Leninger. With these new additions, Bollywood Veggies expands its spaces to educate and enlighten visitors.
Shortly after, the kingdom's angels enter. May is a spirited woman with Cerebral Palsy who had climbed a mountain and written a book and Yong Kang is a young blind man with a panache for handicrafts. Ivy and Ho Seng realised Bollywood could fill another need in the community: giving challenged people employment opportunities in the countryside. The duo hire both May and Yong Kang for jobs on the farm and they have been working here ever since.
The Kranji Countryside is named the best LOHAS (Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability) region in the world, prompting a new wave on interest in the Kranji farms and their various activities and offerings.
Bollywood Bhanchha and Food Museum flourish with the rest of the farm and sees groups from all walks of life coming to the countryside to enjoy a day out with nature. The kingdom expands and survives several floods undamaged while Orchard Road and Bukit Timah do not.
As interest and demand for locally sourced food increases, Bollywood works with the Kranji farms to supply the Supermarket Garden at the Singapore Garden Festival in July 2010, creating even more awareness for the Kranji Countryside.
Famously, 2011 is also the year where Bollywood wins the court case against the BCA, giving the Gentlewarrior renewed faith and trust that she should continue working to uplift the farms and community in Kranji.
The Kranji Countryside starts to develop and completes, by November 2011, the Kranji Heritage Trail, featuring 14 historical and agricultural landmarks. The project is supported by the National Heritage Board and NTUC Fairprice Foundation, and it indicates a recognition that the Kranji countryside is important for both Singapore's heritage and the future of food for our nation. Bollywood Veggies is trail marker 11 and it lives on as the first of its type in the Kranji countryside.
In November 2011, Bollywood Veggies and several other farms also host 20 international delegates for the Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonweath's Next Generation visit to Singapore. Friends from India, Zambia, UK, Australia and India came to the farm to learn about farming in Singapore and the region, and many will be back for the 2016 conference.
A new farmer’s market for Singaporeans and visitors, workshops for art and craft enthusiasts, a hotel for nature lovers who need to catch the best of our country at dawn. There will always be new opportunities for those facing challenges with “conventional” Singapore life. Ivy and Ho Seng are keen to see the countryside kept as a safe harbour for people of all ages, and to provide people. especially the challenged, and younger citizenry looking for alternative career options.
Watch this space, and in the mean time come try our curry!