Chan Kwan-tin’s farm in Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong
“Pokfulam is like an oasis in the desert, and there is nothing else like it on Hong Kong Island.”
By Grace Tsoi
Hong Long Asia Cities
Feb 21, 2013
The death of agriculture in Hong Kong is an unquestionable fact. It is hard to believe that farming is still a regular activity in Pokfulam Village—a place that is so close to the urban heart of our city.
While a few households are still tilling the soil in Pokfulam Village, Chan Kwan-tin’s farm is the most eye-catching of them all. There is a large patch of green in front of his little house where he grows a dozen varieties of vegetables, ranging from turnips to watercress. This is Chan’s proudest project; he single-handedly transformed the barren land into a flourishing farm. He carefully carved the fields into rows and planted different vegetables in each area. Across the fields he has hung some colorful, fluffy dolls to keep the birds at bay. Chan’s farm is comprised of two parts that are connected by concrete paths and stone steps. Chan built them all by himself, and the stone stairs are a special point of pride.
“Officials offered to build the steps for me, but I refused them. Their steps are too wide and look ugly. I collected these stones and rounded off the edges myself, and they are good for walking,” he says. The leftover stones went to decorate a wall over one of his koi carp pools.
Chan came to Hong Kong in 1956, when he was 14 years old. Like many migrants, he wanted to escape the mainland’s political and economic turmoil. However, the new life in Hong Kong was not easy at all. He did not speak the local language or read traditional Chinese characters. His father insisted on his going to school. However, Chan could not adapt to Hong Kong’s schooling system, and he soon decided to work instead.
Pok Fu Lam Village – tour
Pok Fu Lam Village, which dates back to 1868, is one of Hong Kong Island’s last villages. Located near Chi Fu Gardens, a middle-class housing complex, it might seem shabby, but the village is also a living museum of Hong Kong history. From favourite childhood memories, to stories about their grassroot beginnings, three generations of villagers gather to remember their lives. Their recollections reveal not only treasures of the past, but those of the heart.