February 26, 2014

Urban farming x charity

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I'm a big fan and supporter of Feeding Hong Kong.  It's not just because Tigger's one of the co-founders, but I really do believe that they're doing great things for this community.  So when Tigger invited me to a lunch where they were introducing their Edible Garden, it was a no-brainer for me to attend and see what it's all about.

I trekked over to the middle of Kowloon to get to the HKICC Shau Kee School of Creativity.  Once through the front gates, I climbed up six floors to the rooftop - and found myself looking at an example of urban farming.  It's pretty encouraging to see the idea of urban farming spreading in Hong Kong, and people are even doing it in my 'hood in the boonies!

I check out the rows of spinach, basil, romaine lettuce, carrots...etc. All seem to be doing well, and I was told some of the veggies are now on their third or fourth harvest.

This is a project involving many partners in the community.  It's sponsored by Tesco, who donated funding, equipment as well as the seeds needed.  Technical support came in the form of Time to Grow as well as architects who advised on the impact the additional weight would have on the roof of the building.  Once the set up had been done, it was up to the students at the school to take care of the veggies on a day-to-day basis.  After the veggies were harvested, they were distributed to Feeding Hong Kong's existing charity partners - much in the same way fresh veggies from donors like Sarinah Organic are already being distributed.

We all sat down to a vegetarian lunch, which started with a demonstration by Sandra, who had spent time with Grassroots Pantry - one of Feeding Hong Kong's partners in their Chefs in the Community program.

Sandra made us a Mediterranean salad with tomatoes, spinach (grown on the rooftop), Italian basil, mint, red onions, chickpeas and feta cheese.  Delicious.

Then there was a pumpkin soup from Lakshmi Harilela that was absolutely delicious, with hints of cumin and other spices.

Lakshmi also sent us a delicious chickpea stew, along with some flat bread to dip into the stew.  Very hearty, filling and yummy at the same time.

With each passing day, I gain more and more respect for the way Gabrielle Kirstein and her team have grown their operation from its relatively humble beginnings to take on all the different programs they are now running.  Not only are they helping the needy while reducing food waste, they also find ways to raise awareness and leverage on volunteers in the community.  Kudos to Gabs and the team, and I hope more and more people in Hong Kong get involved with them!

P.S. Tigger would object loudly if I didn't give him some credit for making the right connections to secure a few key partners and resources for Feeding Hong Kong at the beginning, so... a pat on the back for him, too...  As they say, KY is the jelly that brings people together...

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