It has been so long since we hosted a large group at our production facility. We were thankful that social distancing measures were lifted shortly after the ease of restrictions in Singapore, allowing us to welcome the public into our facility again. Reflecting on our last tour, a lot has changed within our facility over the short one and a half years.
At the beginning of the week, we welcomed a group of 40 students from Cedar Girls Secondary School for a tour to get to know more about our mighty Black Soldier Flies and an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience of what our company does.
It was truly a breath of fresh air for everyone in the company, feeling the students’ enthusiasm as they fearlessly interact with our mighty Black Soldier Flies and quenched their curiosity through their insightful questions on food security and our world's sustainability challenges.
The Importance of Environmental Tours & Workshops
Being students before, a key highlight of our student life is Learning Journeys and excursions. They are not only fun and unforgettable, but we believe they can also contribute to a student’s personal growth and social awareness – qualities that are a little tougher cultivating strictly within the classroom.
Educational Tours to the public have always been a staple for us ever since the inception of Insect Feed Technologies. Our aspiration for our tours and workshops, especially for students, is to promote critical and creative thinking skills to inspire them to become more engaged with their communities.
On The Tour
As the students arrived, they were greeted by our feather friends at the entrance of our facility. These chickens have been with us since the beginning from our humble tentage on a grass patch outside Launchpad at Jurong Innovation District.
The 40 students were split into four groups to keep the size of each batch as small as possible to facilitate the ease of conversations and stronger engagement. The groups took turns at each station, from learning about the process of upcycling the food waste the company collects to the natural life cycle of the Black Soldier Flies.
The school tour inculcated an experiential learning pedagogy where the students have the chance to interact with our Black Soldier Flies larvae and understand their part to play in our world's challenges.
The first station started in the Operations Room. The Operations Room is where our Black Soldier Flies larvae are hard at work valorising the clean food waste we collect from our partners. Clean food waste includes unsold food from our partnering retail stores and supermarkets, and kitchen trimmings from restaurants and cafeterias.
Food waste valorisation is the conversion of food waste or by-products into higher-value products that contribute back to the food supply chain. This contributes to the circular economy approach where useful material, once seen as waste, is recycled back into the supply chain to create new products.
The students learnt that this innovative food waste valorisation process is a solution to help close the food waste loop in Singapore. Students managed to interact with the larvae in the pans and see first-hand how they break down spent beer grains and okara (soy waste).
Moving along the tour in the Operations Room, the students also observed how the larvae can be transformed into valuable products like fertiliser, pet feed, and insect oil.
The next station is the Breeding Room. Our Black Soldier Flies are housed in what we call, Love Cages. The Breeding Room requires optimum lighting and atmosphere for the flies to be productive. At this stage, the flies stop eating but rely on the nutrients they gathered as larvae. An interesting fact is that Black Soldier Flies have no mouth part and thus do not transfer diseases or parasites like mosquitos or ticks do.
The average lifespan of an adult Black Soldier Fly is 5 – 8 days. We mist the Love Cages with water to extend the life span of the insects, increasing the probability of successful reproduction.
Black Soldier Flies prefer to lay their eggs in tight crevices and can lay at most 900 eggs at a time. The hatching time for Black Soldier Flies is just 4 days! Its short life cycle also makes them favourable for insect rearing.
The tour ended with a short presentation and trivia relating to food security in Singapore and the Circular economy. A few lucky students also managed to go home with our Insect Feed Technologies frass and larvae.
Hosting students at our facility again after a year and a half felt a little surreal. The smiles and excitement of students always make the whole experience worthwhile. We not only aspire for these students to start their social impact but their curiosity and thirst for knowledge are also ever-inspiring which encourages us at Insect Feed Technologies to constantly innovate and hopefully continue to inspire more students in our journey.