HoneyKids had a chat with mum Claire Chabrieres, founder and director of ShiokFarm, to get the full lowdown on this cool concept
When you’re a parent, you’re always looking to give the best you can to your kids. Whether it’s choosing a school with a curriculum that meets all your family’s needs or making sure they’re eating well – being a parent is definitely a lot of work. That’s why when we heard about (OK, more like when we tried the yummy fruits for ourselves at our office) how ShiokFarm‘s cool social enterprise makes eating organic affordable, we were all ears! If there’s anything we know, it’s that buying organic produce is crazy expensive, especially in Singapore, so finding a reasonably priced alternative made us do a little happy dance.
We had a chat with cool mum Claire Chabrieres, founder and director of ShiokFarm, about why she started the business and how she makes shopping for organic fruits and veggies in Singapore easy peasy (organic) lemon squeezy:
Hi Claire! Tell us why you started ShiokFarm…
I decided to start ShiokFarm in 2015 after realising that the organic pear I was feeding my toddler cost $6 – almost unheard of in France (where I’m from). When I became pregnant with twins, I realised that if I wanted to give each of them an organic pear, it would cost me $18, including tax. Crazy! Especially for someone who isn’t on an expat package (do they even exist anymore?), I knew feeding three children with clean, organic food would be tough!
During my pregnancy with the twins, I was put on chair rest, which was really stressful. So I decided that I needed to keep myself busy – hence, ShiokFarm was born. I started with selling organic produce to 20 families (more on our social enterprise later!) and then it kept on growing until there was about 50 to 60 families on a waiting list!
So how does it work?
I wanted to create a traceable, affordable system that’s good for the planet. I based the ShiokFarm system inspired by the French AMAP (Community Supported Agriculture Movement). In a nutshell, a group of families gather together and tell a farmer that they will buy all his production. Knowing his revenue is secured, the farmer can offer very competitive prices. This allows families to have regionally grown organic veggies and fruits at a very competitive price – ShiokFarm organic fruits and veggies are actually cheaper than some of the generic products one can find in Singapore, just because we go straight from the farm to your plate!
How do you choose the farms you want to work with?
We find that farmers are generally passionate about what they do, especially if they choose to be an organic farm. Checking to see if a farm is truly organic is tricky. The soil has to be pesticide-, herbicide- and fertiliser-free. Usually, many fertilisers have nitrates, which may lead to diseases such as colon cancer. It also causes water pollution. An easy trick that I use to check whether a farm is organic or not is to check if they have bugs. I look for farms that use natural fertilisers and organic seeds.
How does ShiokFarm make shopping organic more accessible for people in Singapore?
Not only is the produce at ShiokFarm more affordable, we’ve also made it easier for people to buy our stuff. Once you join our program (you need to commit to at least six months), you get fresh organic produce every Tuesday delivered straight to your home. You can also opt do pick up the goods from a pick-up point that’s near your house.
What makes ShiokFarm different from all the other sites that sell produce?
Because the farmers know what to grow, the food waste that usually happens within the supply chain (the wholesalers, importers, distributors and importers) ceases to exist. Also, we share all our excess produce with the community, especially those who need it the most – like the Cheshire Home for the Disabled. People have a responsibility to start consuming in a more sustainable way and this is a great way to start!
Because ShiokFarm is all about building communities, the pick-up points have become places for our members to socialise. They end up trading fruit and veggies, recipes and more!
You’re a mum of three – how do you teach your children to be more environmentally friendly?
We have a little gardening project at home. Right now, I’m teaching them how to grow their own veggies and fruits. Currently, we have avocado trees and pineapple plants. I make sure they always switch off the tap when they brush their teeth and I’m the mum who makes her kids pick up garbage on the street. It’s a good thing though because now all the kids at my children’s school have followed suit!
Thank you, Claire!
To sign up for a membership, visit www.shiokfarm.com
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