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Hong Kong’s rooftop farmers grow vegetables… and communities

hkandrewAndrew Tsui, co-founder of Rooftop Republic. Photo: Vincent Assante di Cupillo.

Hong Kong, this busy city of 7 million people, as a place of poverty, want and need. Some kind of crisis seems to be developing. Statistics suggest that the city has the widest income gap, between rich and poor, of any developed country in the world.

By Roger Hill
Hong Kong Free Press
19 June 2016

Excerpt:

Each growing project has its own character. The roof of the Fringe Club is dedicated to herbs and vegetables: basil, rosemary, mint, lemon-balm, okra, cucumbers and spinach. Rooftop Republic work with local chefs and some of these crops go to local restaurants, so if you have consumed a particularly tasty meal or cocktail in Central it may be thanks to this rooftop-farm.

Other produce goes to the foodbanks in the city, and Rooftop Republic runs projects with schools which allow students to take home some of the fruits of their curricular studies in science and biology. Similarly the project runs training and workshops for local participants who can enjoy the rewards of their growing labours.

For all of its green credentials the project is not primarily about the produce. Its principal aims are social, as Andrew explains, “We want to re-connect city dwellers with one another, in a physical space, to enjoy the fun of farming, and to reconnect busy city people with the food we are eating every day.”

In the larger picture it is about developing communities. Each growing initiative is designed with a group of local stakeholders and takes into consideration issues of access and sustainability, commitment and environmental factors. The aim is, as Andrew puts it, “to unlock the relational potential in that particular situation, to unlock the space for the community.”

Read the complete article here.