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HKU Edible Spaces
Rooftop Farm

The HKU Rooftop Farm was set up in 2013 as part of the Division of Landscape Architecture's research on edible roofs. Co-managed with the General Education team and the former Sustainability Office, the farm has operated successfully for 8 years, promoting urban sustainable farming among the HKU community.

HKU Rooftop Farm

HKU Rooftop Farm began as part of an academic research on edible roofs and a General Education project of organic farming. It was set up with the support from the senior management, the expertise of professors including Mr Mathew Pryor from the Division of Landscape Architecture, some sponsors and the vegetarian restaurant Bijas. 

Years

Activities

Objectives

  • 2013-2021

Location

  • Runme Shaw Building rooftop, HKU

  • Organic farming

  • Farming workshops

  • Monthly Community Day

  • Monthly Harvest Lunch

  • Other community events

  • ~20 regular volunteers

  • ~20 new participants joining workshops that are held every semester

  • Raise the awareness of sustainable lifestyles such as conserving natural resources, reducing food waste and maintaining a healthy diet through introducing the concept and practice of organic farming.
     

  • Foster a sense of responsibility and connection to the natural environment by reconnecting people and food production.
     

  • Create a humanistic and harmonious campus climate conducive to student learning and social inclusion.

People involved

Choosing what to grow

At the beginning, none of us are experts in farming, we learn from instructors whom we invited to teach in each semester. We start by growing less challenging crops like lettuce and sweet potatoes and move on to a more diverse variety of crops. Through observation and trial and error we began to know what crops do better at which time of the year and even at which specific area of the farm. We discovered that certain pest appear at a specific period of the year. We also learned that growing certain plants next to the other can help to repel pest or attract beneficial insects. Through these observations and learnings, we decide what and where to grow at what time of the year.

What's growing now

Adams fig

Amaranth

Arrowroot

Basil (Italian/ Sweet)

Basil (Thai)

Beetroot

Bell Pepper

Bitter Melon

Black Radish

Bok Choi

Cabbage

Carrot

Carrot Leaves

Celyon Spinach

Cherry radish

Cherry tomato

Chili

Chinese Chives

Common Purslane

Corn

Crystal Roselle

Cucumber

Dragon Fruit

Eggplant

Emperor vegetable

Fennel

French Beans

Green Beans

Hami melon

Indian Mustard

Japanese Radish

Japanese Scallion

Mustard leaves

Kale

Kohlrabi

Lemongrass

Lettuce (Italian)

Lettuce (Romaine)

Marigold

Mini Eggplant

Mint

Okra

Papaya

Passion Fruit

Peanuts

Pumpkin

Purple sweet potatoe

Red Amaranth

Rocket

Roselle

Rosemary

Rue

Spinach

Sweet corn

Sweet Potato Leaves

Thyme

Tomato

Tung Choi / water spinach

Vietnamese Coriander

Watercress (Japanese)

White Eggplant

White Radish (Early sowing)

White Radish (Late sowing)

White sweet potato

Yellow Cauliflower

The
community

The HKU Rooftop Farm is a big family of current students, alumni, staff and friends. The family has been slowly expanding since 2013 when the project began. Apart from actual farming duties, students contributed greatly to the programme through involving in the online promotion and hosting events, while staff who lives nearby campus are willing to take care of the plants on weekends and holidays. Everyone contribute in their own unique ways based on their respective talents and interests.

Challenges

Growing on rooftop is always more challenging than growing on the ground in terms of accessibility and maintenance issues. The Rooftop Farm has to be removed due to maintenance problems of the building and we are hoping that a new site can be found to set up a community farm again on HKU campus.

Special moments

Seeing how students and colleagues are transformed by getting involved in the project is one of the magical moments at the farm. Rather than spending all the time in the icy classrooms or offices, going under the sun, sweating and getting all dirty with soil, plants and water can turn a person cheerful and energetic. It is also amazing to see how teammates develop friendships with one another and gain a sense of belonging to the community.