NUS student turns discarded fruit peels from hawker centres into magic potion for plants in Punggol plot

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Modern farmer & Biodiversity Master’s student grows edible plants with eco-enzymes

The Covid-19 pandemic was a pivotal moment of self-discovery for many, with the long periods of isolation offering a chance to reflect on their life’s purpose.

For Ana Zeng, this period ignited her passion for eco-enzymes – substances that come from the fermentation of organic waste – and using them to cultivate edible plants.

As an industrial design undergraduate on the verge of dropping out, she found a new purpose in this versatile and seemingly magical liquid, inspiring her to share its benefits.

Now, the 30-year-old ferments her own eco-enzymes and tends to a small but thriving “food forest” of sweet potatoes, tapioca, and other plants at City Sprouts Punggol.

At the same time, she is pursuing a Master’s in Biodiversity Conservation and Nature-based Climate Solutions at the National University of Singapore (NUS), focusing on eco-enzymes and soil microbes.

Developed interest in fermentation amidst existential crisis

Ana’s journey into eco-enzymes began in 2019 while pursuing her Bachelor’s in Industrial Design, also at NUS.

Struggling to stay motivated and considering quitting, she took a leave of absence and spent a year in China, seeking purpose through New Age practices like astrology.

“I was curious about why we exist and what purpose we have in the universe,” she explained in an interview with MS News.

During this time, she delved into fermenting kombucha, kefir, and other substances.

“To me, fermentation is a form of alchemy, because it involves transforming one substance into another,” she mused.

Grew potatoes that ‘tasted like chestnuts’ in first experiment with eco-enzymes

Her interest in fermentation led Ana to discover eco-enzymes through WeChat in 2020, during the hei...

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