An artist and a chemist making soda and carbonated juices from scratch, using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Fresh draft soda - available at the Brooklyn Flea on the weekends & select bars & restaurants

Friday, July 6, 2012

Hello from various roof tops across Hong Kong

I spent three weeks late June/ early July in Hong Kong visiting family and friends, and trying to get some work done. One of the interesting trends that has picked up in Hong Kong, very dense metropolis of 7 million people, is the emergence of rooftop farms and urban gardening.

Antonio and I first met Michael Leung from HK Honey last year when he showed us his (hibernating) bees and the start of his rooftop farm in an industrial building in Kowloon. Through running workshops and working with an association of local bee farmers, HK Honey has made great strides in making the general population aware of urban bee-keeping and local honey. His background in design comes in handy too - high end stores like Lane Crawford have requested bee hive commissions.  Eight months later, and one typhoon in, I had the chance to visit his rooftop again and see how his urban farming project (which he started with Matthew Edmonsen & Glenn Eugen Ellingsen), HK Farm is going.
Here's Michael showing me the wonderfully strange planter that someone made them using discarded materials.

The bee hives (painted green) are happily situated between his planters that are currently growing everything from chile peppers to basil. And there's a funny feather duster that is in the lower right corner that is used as a scarecrow.
Michael had spent a couple of months in Brooklyn two years ago, working on Brooklyn Grange's rooftop farm. His zine was fantastically heartfelt.
It's hard to run any type of farm, and it's particularly hard to use rooftops in a city; the engineering that is required and the logistics involved are daunting. But it's fascinating to see how rooftops in industrial areas can be slowly reclaimed and used to their full advantage.

The next day I headed out to check out Project Grow which is run by a non-profit group. Their model is quite different from HK Farm - they see themselves primarily as community center, a place where the people in their neighbourhood can come and learn how to grow their own food. Project Grow is located in the incredibly dense neighbourhood of To Kwa Wan, a once bustling industrial area that has seen better days. Run by the Hong Kong Film Culture Center (which has their screening room and offices in the same building) they don't see themselves selling their produce to generate revenue any time soon, instead choosing to focus their energy on running classes and hosting regular talks & open days.

The view from the rooftop at  Project Grow

Old bed frames were repurposed for planters

No live chickens - but some nice chubby clay ones