//vol.15-4 HKFYG Highlights: Organic Farm

Nature, Us, and the City

The Organic Farm represents a sustainable and healthy way of living. It also serves as a constant reminder of the relationship between humans and nature.

At 8:00 am, when people living in the city’s high-rise buildings start getting ready to go to office buildings, Chan Wing-yiu (Yoyo) is on her way to her place of work: a farm located in a village in Hong Kong’s Yuen Long District. The minivan she boards carries the earthy scent of vegetables it transports daily, serving as a constant reminder of her unique “office” in nature.

Established in 2010, the Organic Farm offers consumers fresh local organic produce. Using fertilisers imported from abroad, it is the only farm in Hong Kong that follows standards from both the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Programme and the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre.

 Yoyo is one of the four full-time staff in the farm. Just like every other colleague, Yoyo embraces her role as a “jack-of-all-trades.” Their responsibilities span agriculture — covering crop planting, maintenance, harvesting, and pest management — to diverse tasks such as guiding tours, selling crops, and organising educational events.

Nokka Tsui, 21, an intern in the Farm, says working in the Farm gives him hands-on experience about environmental science in a micro perspective, from agriculture and sustainable farming techniques. The farm serves as a space for self-reflection and introspection on life’s purpose and contentment. “The most insightful thing I believe I have learnt or experienced is the spiritual introspection on life’s purpose and contentment with myself. I sense that I am alive.”

Anson Ng, a 23-year-old intern, expresses a heightened connection to nature through his work. Experiencing changing weather and witnessing crop growth firsthand, he contrasts the typical urban office setting, which he observes tends to isolate individuals from the natural world. Working in the Farm, Anson says, gives him a better understanding of the hard work of farmers and the value of food production.

“In contrast to the officer, I always feel a connection to the outdoors, wildlife, and flora. My deep ties to nature allow me to deal with life while feeling incredibly at ease and relaxed. Even though it’s been said that farming requires a lot of physical energy, especially when compared to being an officer. However, it is tough that I can consistently see the fruits of my labour, which gives me great joy,” says Nokka.

Yoyo, too, shares this joy of being close to nature in the Farm. “I can immerse myself in nature, experiencing the changes of the seasons, the rhythms of plants and animals, and time seems to pass quickly. Despite the physical exertion involved in the work, I feel less stressed and have a sense of purpose in the work.”

Meanwhile, Yoyo is aware of how food imported from around the globe and the availability of processed, ready-to-eat meals create the impression that our daily sustenance is effortlessly obtained. This convenience often leads us to overlook the origins of our food. 

While organic farming in Hong Kong, which is growing in popularity, faces challenges due to the lack of land, water and locally produced organic fertilisers, the Farm represents not only a sustainable and healthy way of living, but a reminder of the close relationship between humans and nature.

“Many children did not like eating vegetables. However, after spending a few months planting vegetables with their parents, understanding the growth process of fruits and vegetables, and appreciating the hard work of farmers, these children express to our instructors that they will eat more vegetables in the future and cherish food,” Yoyo says. 

Cat Chi-chi, 15, is the most senior “staff” in the Farm. She’s responsible for rat control and land fertilisation. 

The HKFYG Organic Farm is located in Yuen Long, a town in the western New Territories, Hong Kong, adjacent to Tai Lam Country Park and the Ho Pui Reservoir. Covering an area of over 15,000 square meters, the farm is committed to promoting local organic agriculture, protecting the ecological environment and advocating for a sustainable lifestyle.