We value what our community thinks about the project and continuously seek for ways to improve and expand our positive impact. Read what our students, staff, professors and external guests have to say about the HKU Edible Spaces.
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Architecture
Hong Kong youth are growing more and more disconnected from nature, from their own bodies (focused on academics), from others (interacting mostly online via social media), from the sense that the HKU campus and Hong Kong is their home, that they can cherish, influence, to grow and live healthy, happy, connected lives. How can we get the students to connect with their own bodies, develop agency, build friendships, a flourishing community and become stewards of the HKU campus, and of Hong Kong?
One only cares about what one understands. If we want the students to care about their campus, they need to understand how the campus works, to feel the campus is their second home. If we want the students to care about nature and become tomorrow's sustainable leaders, they need to develop a personal relationship with nature, they need to touch nature with their own hands, to understand nature's fragility and great power.
The rooftop garden at HKU is one of the very few places that HKU students can touch, that they can change, influence: it's alive, changing with the seasons, a little messy at times -as it should!-, as it breathes with the student and staff labor of love and play. Every time you go, it will look, smell and feel different. It's one of the few places where students are not only passive learners, but they can be active creators.
I have been teaching at HKU for 3 years now, and I saw first hand students and staff:
Developing a proposal for innovative tracking solar panels as part of the "Sustainable Leadership" Course that all the students of the new Bachelor of Arts and Science benefited - to help the HKU campus transition to green energy sources!
Prototype a small compost bin for food waste that they shipped to the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh - gaining international humanitarian experience!
Produced published research about Hong Kong rooftops in a popular book, making this rooftop the pride of HKU!
Produce and share free vegetarian meals with locally produced herbs. The planet needs us to change our diet, and produce locally!
Enjoy lots of informal gatherings and taking a break from stressful deadlines and work duties in a "little green paradise in the clouds"!
Beyond all the literature that is very positive about all the benefits of a community garden, knowing that my workplace has such a magical place, where staff and students are "just people" tending to a garden, makes the campus a place that I can relate to, that I can love and care for. I am thankful and I hope to see more areas of the campus like the rooftop garden, where students and staff are entrusted to be creative, open to experimentation, and increase wellbeing and our sense of belonging to this place.
Assistant Lecturer, The Centre for Civil Society and Governance, Faculty of Social Sciences
The willingness to imbibe in the culture of ethical, sustainable and holistic development is what differentiates the truly distinguished institutions in academia.
The Edible Spaces Project is one of the most inspiring and valuable projects I have had the fortune of partaking in during my teaching years here. The Project has been praised by students, staff and visitors alike, not least due to the dedication of the team at the sustainability office in managing the edible spaces and developing innovative initiatives. The initiatives developed on the basis of the two edible spaces on campus serve the important purpose of disseminating knowledge, as well as empowering and inspiring sustainable lifestyle changes.
The University’s commitment to the Project showcases its devotion to providing a platform for future leaders in sustainability, as well as incubating cutting-edge research in this field. The Project is a testament to the University’s status as an ethical global institution.
For myself, I have gained invaluable exposure and experience from participating in this highly interdisciplinary Project, which has greatly enriched the content of the courses I teach for various programmes at the University. At this rate, I can only see more fruits being borne by the Project as the University commits itself to further resources for the wonderful team at the sustainability office, who deserve all our recognition for their passion and professionalism in promoting this meaningful cause.
Earth Sciences Department and Swire Institute for marine Sciences
The current climate crisis had been on the news all other the world. Hong Kong society is getting more aware of the need to make changes in order to limit the impact of the current global warming. Food choice has been one of the changes that have been identified to have a direct impact on climate and all other the world urban farms developed. Urban farms created have several positive impacts on people and not only related to the fight on climate changes. From my point of view, urban farms are critical to empower people to recognise the individual power of their action on climate, however Hong Kong citizen and youth in particular are not easily aware of the existence of such urban farm in Hong Kong. The rooftop garden is a unique opportunity for HKU students to learn more about farming but more importantly to realise that changes are happening now, here… As a teacher of environmental sciences courses at HKU, I hope that all students can be familiar to the rooftop farming activities as I believe it can bring them a unique opportunity to learn, reflect and connect with/from others. The HKU rooftop farm is crucial to empower the HKU students to be actor of their future.
Francisco Cevallos Barragán
Division of Landscape Architecture
The University of Hong Kong
In a compact and high-densified city as Hong Kong, new initiatives are needed to preserve the environment and to connect urban environments with Nature; the HKU Edible Space Project is one of them. This unique place has the capacity to connect endemic species with people. It has the capacity to teach new generations a great legacy embedded in the agriculture and memory of a city. As a foreign student, I had the opportunity to get involved with this amazing spot at HKU where I learnt about the local knowledge and the importance of urban agriculture in a city. During that time, I also learnt how important is nature to connect a community and to build new social relationships.
The Edible Roof Garden provides the possibility to understand the complexity behind our food, to reveal the quantity of resources a plant needs to survive and to understand the impacts of human behaviour associated to climate change. This small area accessible for the public is not only a great asset for people interaction but also constitutes part of the urban nature. Several birds are visiting the roof garden day by day and local species are supported by this small piece of nature. Indeed, in the current situation where climate change is impacting our cities and life, people need to comprehend how these small spaces can significantly shape one community.
Finally, in a smaller scale, this space brought several smiles to my life. My wife and I had the opportunity to cultivate several species and to participate in several events related to this initiative. Undoubtedly, the work developed by HKU Edible Spaces should be promoted and spread in order to build a better environment, healthier communities, and happier people.
Oscar Chan Tsz Ho
Student, MAcct Y1
I have joined the sustainable urban farming workshop since September 2020 and was lucky to have the chance to perform basic duties to manage the rooftop farm. I have also participated the community days being held regularly by the rooftop farming team, where we can learn about different crops' characteristics and concepts of sustainability.
As an urban farmer, I already love planting at my home's balcony and I feel grateful to have this learning experience to broaden my knowledge. It also influenced and raised my attention on the existing environmental organisations and issues in HK. Most importantly, the passion from the staff, the amount of care and effort to manage the farm has inspired me to improve constantly in being a better and responsible individual.
I would say the rooftop farm is one of the vital and valuable asset in HKU that showcases environmental sustainability in the most down-to-earth way. Nowadays, the society has been emphasising on a well-rounded approach when it comes to evaluating a business or any social matters. This approach is known as Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), as opposed to simply focusing on the economic perspective of a matter. The rooftop farm acts as an important role for HKU's position in promoting, educating and inspiring future generations to not only uphold their social responsibility but also enrich their non-academic aspects of life. The rooftop farm has become the channel for HKU students and staff to associate and practice modern values in our society, which brings substantive value and goodwill to HKU.
Ella C Forsberg
Student, BArch Y4
With all the crises the world and Hong Kong is facing right now, the rooftop farm is more important than ever. The rooftop farm is an essential space for educating the community about food resilience and sustainability, through a hands-on and sustainable approach; it is a site for research and experiential learning, and also a space for students like me to build relationships with various people in my community. The rooftop farm connects people across age, gender, profession, disability, and any other boundary!
Various research in Hong Kong and elsewhere prove the importance of urban green spaces and experiences in nature for our mental health, and the farm allows us a closer relationship to the plants than one would simply get from a park. Moreover, students can get insight into the labour and knowledge embedded in the food we eat, an awareness that is crucial to be able to engage in the work and academic environment of the future.
The rooftop farm is also a platform for students to do hands-on research and projects related to important topics within sustainability such as urban agriculture and food production, the influence of green space on mental health, rural development strategies and many more. For instance, we consulted leaders from the rooftop farm for a course I was co-teaching, and a classmate cooperated with the farm for a composting project for another course. As such the rooftop farm is a very important space for the research and knowledge production of HKU to remain relevant and impactful.
Moreover, the rooftop farm to me represents a commitment and movement within the university to work for sustainability, and its presence alone inspires me to think further and believe in the possibility of doing more sustainability related projects on campus. The persistence of the projects shows that HKU can be a space for us to realise projects that we are passionate about! I still regularly show the farm to new friends, and it always sparks discussion, new ideas and new friendships.
HKU Cleaning Team 港大清潔部
Student, BArch Y4
What does it mean to be sustainable in a highly dense city like Hong Kong? Are there still spaces in the city where people and non-human species can not only survive, but thrive and flourish? The various eco-system benefits of urban agriculture ranging from biodiversity conservation to mental-health benefits are being studied all around the world, providing countless justification for allocating space in the city to spaces like Edible Spaces HKU.
However, what is sometimes difficult to measure but is more precious is the spirit of the community project. Edible Spaces is a space filled with love, community and hope. It is a collective effort which has brought staff and students together, to share space, exchange knowledge and build community. It is an example of not only dreaming of better futures for our cities, but actually coming together to try to do it - starting with where we are and what we have. The seeds sown in Edible Spaces take weeks, months and sometimes years of tender care to bear fruit, symbolising the overlapping hopes which members have for the world - whether it is for people to be more ecologically-minded, more caring and/or more inclusive.
The hopes embodied by Edible Spaces also overlaps with non-members. Catering Care project was a project initiated in 2020 to raise funds to support both small caterers and food insecure populations during the pandemic. The project soon grew to think more about how our food systems can be a way to reconnect communities in a meaningful way. One of our activities was a campus tour for the staff of Udeli and Take a Break, two social enterprises which hire people with disabilities and one of the pit stops were the herb garden and rooftop farm. The collaboration occurred because both projects are imaginations of how our communities can be more connected, caring and resilient.
On a personal level, as someone who has just started learning how to farm, I cannot emphasise how inspiring the rooftop farm is. Farming edible plants in an urban setting not only teaches us about important concepts like food miles, regenerative agriculture and waste cycles, but also brings us into intimate relationships with what grows and are alive i.e. non-human species we often forget co-exists in our cities. It challenges us to make space for what we value, wherever we are, and to care for it tenderly but tenaciously.
The HKU Edible Spaces has been a great initiative for the staff and students of HKU. As a student and person who has lived most of my life in the city, volunteering my time at the roof top farm has enabled me to learn so much about our agriculture and food systems – which is an increasingly important issue to know about in this day and age. Not only has the farm taught me a great deal about urban farming, organic produce, and permaculture but also through community days and tea gatherings I have been able to engage in the community and spend time in nature. This project has been well thought out and maintained by the Sustainability Office and GE and brings tremendous community value and helps HKU integrate non-academic learning.
Student, BEF Y4
Staff, Department of Chemistry, HKU
I am one of the member of the Rooftop Farming team. I joined the HKU Farming workshop organized by General Education & Sustainability Office in Jan of 2019. We learned the farming knowledge from workshop and put it into practice since then. This is the first time I witness the growth of some plants from seedlings to fruit. (Before, I was a plant killer, I was unable to keep any plant green).
We planted cucumber, pumpkin, lettuce, spring onion, etc. We had very good harvest of cucumbers that spring and had a thanksgiving party to celebrate our harvest. From the workshop I learned some knowledge about farming/planting. I learned to treasure more what I eat since then, because hardworking does not guarantee good harvest. Good weather, pest control, daily irrigation and timely fertilisation are essential. The lettuce that we grew were bit by pests.
Every time I went up to the rooftop and see the seedlings growing taller and taller, then flowers starting to grow, blossoms, then wilt and turn into small fruit, the fruit growing bigger and bigger and finally ripe and harvested. The joy from the process is priceless. Very often, after a busy morning of work, going up to the rooftop helps me to find the tranquility from the inside, and I get refreshed and get back to work re-energised. A half day work out in the farm for weeding or irrigation, etc also make me a physically and spiritually stronger person. That is the reason why I requested to join the farming team and get my own planters. I enjoyed going up to the farm whenever I got time. I met new friends, staffs and students, from different departments and sharing of the farming experience and fruits to make us into a family.
Landscape Architecture Team
Have you ever enjoyed food that is grown by yourself? If you have, you'll understand that immense satisfaction.
I've been gardening at the HKU Edible Garden for the past 5 years. From a total beginner, I've learned to grow food the organic way thanks to workshops organised by GE and fellow gardeners' advice. It's amazing that even exotic crops like figs, dragon fruits, passion fruits, papayas and mulberries etc can be grown out of relatively small boxes of soil, not to forget the more conventional veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkins and bok choys etc.
The rooftop garden demonstrates sustainability in the most vivid way. If you put a lot of care to the growing environment, the crops will keep returning year after year. Likewise, the community spirit of gardeners grows year by year too, as we work together by continuous try and error.
Gardening helps us learn about nature, and how to collaborate with it to be productive. It involves multi-disciplinary knowledge and promotes life-long learning. My experience has been both fulfilling and life-enriching, to the extend a lot of my friends are inspired and started their own little green corner on the office window sill or balcony at home. They all benefit from the joy of nurturing plants, which is so essential in offsetting their daily stress from work and now the pandemic.
The Edible Garden is more than a rooftop farm. It is a sanctuary for city-dwellers to reconnect with nature, and above all, happiness.
After learning more about how consuming local food reduces the carbon emission and how real food benefits our health, I wanted to learn how to grow food for myself. At HKU Edible Space, I have developed knowledge about organic agriculture and the best practical skills of farming. Before that I couldn't even tell names of most vegetables and I definitely had difficulty to identify various plants. I am grateful that I get to reconnect to the nature in here and truly know about the food I consume. The faming experience left me feeling passionate and excited to further explore the agricultural world. And it was more than that, I also learned to appreciate the little things in life by taking time to take care of plants. From seeding to cropping, every single step of growing food needs a lot of care, effort and attention. HKU Edible Spaces definitely represents the wonderful team spirit of the community. We eat what we sow, this is a very unique and valuable "farm-to-table" experience to people like us who live in the urban city to grow, harvest, cook and share the organic food with each other. You would be surprised to find out how much beauty and flavour can be packed into a humble organic lettuce leaf from sustainable farming!