Farms in Singapore: Jurong Frog Farm
By Eunice Lim, Singapore
Singapore is a young country that lacks its own natural resources. Our busy city slickers are fuelled by foreign imported foods from all over the world, which we purchase from air-conditioned, sanitized supermarkets. Yet, northwest of Singapore, in an area called Kranji, a little countryside retreat is populated by various clusters of local farms. Although these farms are unable to provide the city with all the food it needs, they provide locals with a domestic option for fresh food. I visited the Kranji countryside as part of a commemoration of Slow Food Week and my first stop was the Jurong Frog Farm, a family business started in 1981 by Wan Bock Thiaw.
On the 20th of August 2008, the local newspaper The Straits Times published an article by Grace Chua that called on readers to not “let these amphibian species croak their last” (Chua). In her article, Grace states that “frogs world-wide are threatened by habitat loss, climate change, pollution and pesticides, over-collection as pets and food.” Frogs are also susceptible to diseases such as chytrid fungus. With the numbers of amphibians dwindling, the Jurong Frog Farm ensures their subsistence with healthy breeding practices. On top of that, they provide educational tours and workshops for both adult and children, giving them an opportunity to learn and interact with the American bullfrogs at the farm.
Instead of conventional tourism, the Jurong Frog Farm provides a new form of eco-tourism – frog tourism! Frog tourism is completed here with souvenirs and frog merchandise for sale at the Royal Frog Shop. You can purchase adorable frog badges, headbands and many more at the shop in support of the Jurong Frog Farm.
In addition to souvenirs, the Jurong Frog Farm sells its own produce - fresh whole bullfrog, frozen bullfrog legs, and specially selected snow jelly, or Hasma. Locally managed and sustained, the farm ensures top quality, fresh frog produce for Singaporeans. Low in fats, cholesterol and calories and high in protein, Vitamins A, B1, B12 and C, frog meat is also known to cure eczema and skin problems, neutralize heatiness and improve vitality.
The family’s youngest daughter, Chelsea Wan, joined her father in running the business in 2006. Still in her 20s, her youthful approach to running the business can be seen in the murals painted all over the Frog Farm. Calling herself a frog-o-logist (an expert in all things frog-related), she is also a member of the Kranji Countryside Association, a group of visionary farmers who aim to promote local agriculture and food production, conservation, and eco-tourism.
Amidst the croaks of the bullfrogs, the Jurong Frog Farm is an eye-opener for the city slicker. An entirely different side of Singapore does exist, a side that continues its determined and progressive fight for subsistence farming despite the rapidity and modernity of the city’s imports.