Filed under: WELL
Today Trailblazers wants to share with you the rich and exciting history of Dairy Farm Nature Park, of which WELL (where we conduct our walks) is a part of. :D :D The plot of land which is now Dairy Farm Nature Park has gone through a lot of transformation throughout the years and it shows clearly how Singapore developed over time.
Do you ever wonder why the Wallace Education Centre is named like that? Why Wallace and not Charles or Frederick or Bob? Well, it’s because of Alfred Russell Wallace! He was Charles Darwin’s good friend and helped to come up with many ideas in the theory of evolution. In the 1850s when he was exploring the Malay Archipelago, he was amazed by the amount of biodiversity found in this small patch of forest that is now the Dairy Farm Nature Park! He was intrigued by the many beetles and butterflies and he often trekked through the forest alone collecting specimens, even in spite of tigers lurking around. How brave, what passion!
In the 1920s and 1930s, Dairy Farm was not a dairy farm at all! Instead, it was a pig farm! A few large Berkshire boars were imported and crossbred with local sows, and they quickly multiplied into 1200 pigs in 3 years. However, this farm could not last long. In 1930, an epidemic of swine fever (80 years earlier than swine flu!) broke out on the farm and 900 pigs died.
At that time, supply of fresh milk for Magnolia came from small dairies chiefly under the control of the Bengali community, keeping Indian breeds and Murra buffaloes. However, milk was of inferior quality and “a thin bluish-white liquid not infrequently flavored with cow dung and usually speckled with dead flies”. The cows were “sad and emaciated… wandering aimlessly around the waste land barely nourished by the coarse and wiry buffalo grass”. It was definitely not something anyone would enjoy.
Since the pig farm was no longer sustainable, the next best project was milk production. It was decided that Cold Storage should manufacture its own milk products to ensure hygiene and quality. A free-growing hybrid grass was found to be comparable to grass in temperate dairy farms, and was used as food for the cows instead of local grass species, which weren’t palatable. The milk was sold in nostalgic tiga penjuru or pyramid shaped Tetra Pak cartons which were very convenient. The people living there also planted many food trees like durian, curry and coffee among others.
The old tetra pak milk packaging.
Eventually however, the place was abandoned. There are still many houses and traces of old pots and stone lying around today, which were once used by the people then! Now, the plot of land has been declared a Nature Park and it is frequently visited by people of all ages.
This is one of the abandoned houses. Haunted?
Hope you’ve learnt much more about WELL through our post today!
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