a field report on Mapopo Farm from our member Rija. hope you enjoy it 🙂
Last month we have organised a group visit of the Mapopo Community Farm. It happened to be the 4th Sunday of the month which coincided with the vegetable and handicraft market at the farm.
It was also a time of festival, where different type of fun and family orientated activities took place including cooking workshops.
We have managed to secure an english speaking guided tour of the community and it was very enlightening and covered more than I expected initially.
I came expecting a tour of farming techniques in action, but we also got a passionate hymn to the defence of community farming.
The Mapopo Community Farm is part of the Ma Shi Po Village.
The village has been inhabited by several general generations of mainland immigrants that rented a plot from indigenous people.
Most of indigenous people sold their land to a property developer who want to transform the place into a collection of high-rise apartment complexes. The village is nowadays only half of what it was before, as the south part has become two apartment complexes.
Most of what remains of the village are farm lands. Some migrants luckily bought their farm land from indigenous people. But most of the plots have been bought by the property developers. The relocated former inhabitants still come back to clandestinely farm on these plots and and there’s a cat and mouse game being played between the property developer’s goons and the guerrilla farmers. It’s worth noting that the property developers took action before the government plan on town planning was finalised.
The Mapopo Community Farm has become a rally point for all the farmers in the village. In addition of educational and CSA activities, they are campaigning to preserve community farming and for a better cohabitation between housing estates and farmers communities.
This is a tough battle. In my opinion, the prime directive of nature and biodiversity conservation and the growing population, combined to the shortage of land in HK, means that continued construction of high-rise housing is ineluctable.
Thinking in term of permaculture, and considering the urban heart as the centre of energy, I reckon these New Territories farmlands makes excellent Zone 2 and 3 activities. I think that rooftop farming, vertical gardens, indoor aquaculture, urban bee keeping and urban guerrilla gardening make excellent Zone 1 activities. It’s not necessarily a tough sell for property developers: They spend money to provide community management in apartment complexes.
If they are willing to devolve this role to the residents and that residents use a CSA based approach to make use of the zonal activities, resident happiness will increase, and community management as well as energy management inside apartment complexes will cost less for property developers. National parks and other conservation areas could act as Zone 4 and Zone 5 and left to the government to be controlled.
From just a farming perspective, some farmers are still on chemical fertilisers but the Mapopo Community Farm is helping more and more farmers transitioning to organic practices.
They also organise the collection of waste from nearby restaurants to be used for composting. That was the first I saw soya byproduct waste and fish guts successfully used for composting.
The Mapopo Community Farm was founded by the third generation of mainland migrants Becky Au and Cho Kai-kai.
You can watch their TEDx talk at TEDxKowloon below (if you understand Cantonese).
If you want to visit the farm, it’s just a 20mn walk from Fanling Station and is located opposite of the Belair Monte Apartments complex.
If you want to help out their cause, you can respond (by 20th February 2014) to the government consultation on NENT planning by filling this form.