Feeding our community, defending our nation

https://www.mindef.gov.sg/web/wcm/connect/pioneer/e037d7d4-1065-490d-8945-a8fe0479f33a/13feb23_news1_thumbnail.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-e037d7d4-1065-490d-8945-a8fe0479f33a-op8VMKz /web/wcm/connect/pioneer/e037d7d4-1065-490d-8945-a8fe0479f33a/13feb23_news1_thumbnail.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=ROOTWORKSPACE.Z18_1QK41482LG0G10Q8NM8IUA1051-e037d7d4-1065-490d-8945-a8fe0479f33a-op8VMKz /web/portal/pioneer/article/regular-article-detail/people/2023-Q1/13feb23_news1
13 Feb 2023 | PEOPLE

Feeding our community, defending our nation

Story by Thrina Tham

Photos by Kenneth Lin & courtesy of Mr Lim

English Melayu

ComCrop founder Allan Lim not only plays a part in strengthening Singapore's food resilience, he volunteers to continue serving NS to defend the nation.

Dual roles in defence: Mr Lim plays a part in strengthening Singapore's food resilience, while continuing to serve NS.

When the global food supply chain is disrupted, where can Singapore turn to for food? Mr Allan Lim is hoping that the answer can lie within the country herself.

He started ComCrop – Singapore's first and only commercial urban rooftop farm – in 2011, with the hopes of building social integration.

Today, the farm produces about 300 tonnes of vegetables a year and is one of the nation's "defences" in food security.

"The farm goes to supporting our food supply chain and developing our resilience. We would be the first response to any food crisis," explained Mr Lim.

The 50-year-old Operationally Ready National Serviceman (NSman) plays dual roles in defence. As the Principal Staff Officer of an Armour NS unit, Mr Lim assists in planning operations in the battlefield.

The 3rd Warrant Officer continues to volunteer in that appointment, since reaching his statutory age 10 years ago.

For his dedication and service, he was awarded the SAF NSmen of the Year Award last year.

Mr Lim checking his crops at ComCrop's urban farm in Woodlands. The rooftop farm houses a total of five greenhouses.

Feeding Singapore

ComCrop began as a humble community farm in Bukit Panjang. Mr Lim self-funded the project with a friend to encourage social interaction among residents.

"2011 was a time when there was dissatisfaction and tugs at our social fabric. So, I thought, what can we do to bring people together? Why not bring people back to farming?" he explained.

Gradually, the project grew from community farming to a company focused on food production.

In 2020, as food disruptions hit due to COVID-19, ComCrop ramped up its efforts and expanded its greenhouses on its rooftop farm atop an industrial building in Woodlands.

Now, it grows leafy greens chye sim (a type of cabbage) and lettuce, along fresh herbs like rosemary, basil and mint, which can be found in local supermarkets like NTUC Fairprice Finest.

ComCrop gave out over 1,000 packets of vegetables to residents at Yuhua this January.

The company is also committed to feeding the community. They recently gave out over 1,000 packets of vegetables at grassroot events at Clementi and Yuhua, and have been regularly contributing to non-profit organisation Food Rescue Sengkang.

"Whenever we have excess or whenever there's a request, we can always find something to give. I think this is great and it's something our staff believe in," said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim with his wife during an appreciation dinner for NSmen of the Year award recipients, held at the Istana last year.

Dedicated to defence

Mr Lim served his full-time national service as a specialist instructor training officers, warrant officers and specialists.

When he returned for his In-Camp Training (ICT), he was deployed as part of the pioneer batch of the Armour NSmen Group. With experience in air-land operations, he volunteered to develop the air plans for his unit and now continues to serve as its Principal Staff Officer.

"Our unit values ability more than rank, and there were others after me who also continued to serve because the culture is good. So, I was happy to continue volunteering," said Mr Lim.

Mr Lim (second from left) completing a 16km route march with his fellow Armour NSmen.

In 2016, he was involved in the National Day Parade as part of the community engagement committee. Mr Lim also served in the Committee to Strengthen NS from 2014 to 2015, which gave recommendations such as allowing more flexibility for NSmen to improve their fitness and clear the Individual Physical Proficiency Test.

Mr Lim (front) with his ICT buddies during Exercise Wallaby 2019.

His most memorable NS experience, however, was his first ICT at Exercise Wallaby 2007, held in Australia.

"We were huddling at night outside our vehicle because the temperature was minus-something in the cold Australian dessert," he recalled of the night mission.

"The vast and challenging operating theatre overseas, developing plans and pushing them forward, seeing how everything came together…. These are experiences that can't be replicated."

Suggested Reading
Ready for crisis
Ready for crisis

The inaugural island-wide Exercise SG Ready was launched this year on Total Defence Day.

Never take Total Defence for granted
Never take Total Defence for granted

From sharing stories of living in a war-torn country to joining the SAFVC and giving NSmen time off for ICT – these are what former actor Ix Shen and company CEO SV2 Varun Ramdas do to advocate the importance of NS and Total Defence.

Father-son duo serving their NS at Ex Wallaby
Father-son duo serving their NS at Ex Wallaby

It's been 30 years since SLTC (NS) Daniel Lim last participated in the exercise as an NSF. Now, he returns as an NSman with his son following in his footsteps.

Remembering our local war heroes
Remembering our local war heroes

As Total Defence Day draws near on 15 Feb, we take a look back at some of the heroes who risked their lives to defend Singapore during World War II (WWII).

Uplifting migrant workers' lives, one photo at a time
Uplifting migrant workers' lives, one photo at a time

This commando NSman started a social enterprise that provides free camera rental and training for migrant workers.

感谢您让新加坡保持强大 Feature
Thank you for keeping Singapore strong Feature
Thank you for keeping Singapore strong

Jump! Actor-model takes on Commando airborne training Feature
Jump! Actor-model takes on Commando airborne training

2SG (NS) Iswan Ismail thought taking part in a new reality series on SAF challenges would be pretty basic – the actor-model ended up getting a taste of the Commandos' airborne training!

Father-of-four aces Command and Staff Course
Father-of-four aces Command and Staff Course

Your fourth child is coming. You're busy with work in the bank. AND you're studying for an executive MBA. THEN you receive news that you're to attend a ten-month military course. Would you be able to cope?