Hong Kong produces just 7% of its own food.
The rest needs to be trucked or flown in – mostly from China.
But after a spate of food contamination scandals on the mainland, shoppers are growing wary of food marked ‘Product of China’.
The scandals have boosted demand for produce grown chemically-free in Hong Kong, and organic farms are thriving in the New Territories area along the Chinese border.
But with space at a premium in Hong Kong, these fledgling enterprises are being eyed off by developers.
The Mapopo village farm in the New Territories is in the firing line.
Developers want to bulldoze a third of this rich fertile farmland and put up more of these high-rise apartments.
Becky Au from the ‘Save Mapopo Community Farm Action Group’ says “If the government goes ahead and approves this project it will be devastating for the local community.
”We need to save this farm so we can save our food in Hong Kong.’’
Becky says everything grown on the farm is organic.
The villagers of Ma Shi Po make their own chemical-free compost and fertilisers and sell their produce at a weekly farmers market.
“We grow lettuces, tomatoes, and pumpkins … and in summer there are melons and cucumbers,’ says Becky. ‘Village life is good.’
The villagers are fighting to save their farm andtheir livelihood but it seems the development plan is almost certain to be approved by the Hong Kong government.
It’s a story repeated often wherever developers meet farmers.
Joey Ng who runs the Zen Organic Farm in the Ta Kwu Ling area in the northern New Territories says she has no intention to sell to developers.
‘Once we started this farm, many people asked us to sell but we love this farm and this life,’ says Joey
Joey’s 250,000 square feet farm of greenhouses supplies Hong Kong’s top restaurants with organic produce.
‘We grow heirloom tomatoes, figs, strawberries, eggplants, papayas to order so chefs have exactly what they need,’ says Joey.
‘ I think they are more conscious about what is in food because they want to have another choice and I think they like organic farm food’.
In a country with development fever, becoming an organic farmer has been an unexpected spiritual journey for Joey.
‘I love the lifestyle because you get close to nature, you get a rhythm from nature.. it makes you more humble.
The Mapopo Farm will know next year whether they can continue their unique sustainable village life or whether more farmers will be forced off their land.
Saucy Onion travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.