The New College New Farm is where students living in the same residential college learn and farm together, and share their harvest with the rest of the community in the neighbourhood.
The farm was started by Dr Billy Hau and other students back in 2014 to try out urban farming in the residential college setting. It was quite challenging and the soil took several years to become fertile!
Podium of New College at Jockey Club Village III and Smithsfield Garden
Farming workshops and sessions
Daily composting and watering duties
Annual festivals and events
Tours, exchanges and Lectures
Executive committee of around 8 people
~60 farming members who are residents of the hall
Allow students to grow food in the city, and in the process, learn about sustainability, relax mindfully and connect with others and to nature
Be a living lab for learning how to collaborate with others to grow food and organize events
Be a place to practice and embody sustainability in the context of pressing global environmental issues
Choosing what to grow
We started out mostly with vegetables that are easy to grow and can be harvested regularly. Over time, we started to grow some fruit trees and most recently we started to experiment with flowers. As the farm is a place for experimentation, we welcome members’ suggestions! The flowers were suggested by the cleaning staff who thought that we can have more colours in the garden. We have also been reflecting on the original intention of setting up New Farm, which was to encourage more biodiversity in the urban setting we are in, and we take that into consideration when we think of what to plant next.
What's growing now
Red chilli pepper
Shanghai bok choy
Community is very important to New Farm, as it is also a good place for student residents to befriend each other. We also often share our harvest with the cleaning and security staff, who are also often very interested in what we are doing. We have also established many connections with other groups from other colleges within the Jockey Club Village III or even groups outside of the university through co-organizing workshops or opening up our farming workshops to them. We learn a lot through these collaborations, and also can introduce farming to others in interesting ways! For example, we once collaborated with the Cooking Club of another college, and they gave us some sweet potatoes to plant and we used the harvest to make sweet potato balls. We have also always tried to reach out to the public as well through open-day events such as during Chinese New Year. Most recently with our new farm location at Smithsfield which is open to the public during park hours, we are hopeful that New Farm can be even more integrated with the neighbourhood at large.
Due to Covid-19, we stopped having a farming instructor come in to teach us. Therefore, our student farming experts had to learn everything themselves by using the internet! We also have to re-organize our farming duties such that we can abide by the safe-distancing measures and avoid mixing of groups.
Another major challenge was growing in Smithsfield Garden which is open to the public. We realised that our plants kept on being destroyed, and we were not sure if that is the work of humans or animals. We overcame it by erecting a fence around the plants while still allowing the public to see what is being grown.
There are so many special memories! The friends we make through our activities in New Farm are really precious. After the Chinese New Year event, an elderly uncle who attended actually sent us a letter to thank us and we were very touched. We also have many good memories symbolized through the exchange of seedlings and plants. For example, we received a pine tree from someone in the residential college and a jackfruit tree from Wang Chau village, and they are both growing on the farm now. We also give away tiny planters of cherry tomatoes, chilli etc. to guests who visit our farm or guests of honour at High Table Dinners.