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KFBG in Transition towards Sustainability

The Kadoorie brothers planted the seeds of KFBG when they founded the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association in 1951. With years of dedication, effort and love, biodiversity and agriculture flourished in our once barren and rocky hillside. Until 20 years ago it was normal to use chemical-based pesticides and fertilizers on the hillsides here and to issue these to farmers. Responding to changing times, KFBG staff have been working to harmonise our relationship with the environment by reducing the ecological footprint of our operations. Following research and establishing models and practices of more sustainable alternatives, we have been actively sharing our experiences to encourage the wider spread of sustainable living in Hong Kong and Mainland China.


Energy Decent

KFBG has been exploring a path of progressive energy descent, so as to reduce our ecological footprint and reliance on fossil fuels. Apart from implementing comprehensive policies and initiatives to lower our indirect energy use, we are also looking into ways of cutting down our direct energy use from non-renewable resources. Passive and active designs for utilising renewable energy have been introduced in office and field operations. With a clear procurement strategy and the commitment of the staff to limit their driving and drive slowly we have also cut down our vehicle fuel consumption by 30% in 2013/14 in comparison to 2009/10. There is still much work to do.

Skylights are widely used in our offices and exhibition rooms for natural lighting.

Wind-driven ventilation fan are used in our chicken house. 

Green roofs are widely used at KFBG for heat insulation.

Our mules help transport goods within KFBG in a more earth-friendly way.

Self-sufficiency in Water Supply

Hong Kong has been externalising its water footprint for decades by importing water from Mainland China and also importing water-consuming goods from all over the world. In doing so we put our water supplies under threat and leave ourselves totally unprepared for the challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change.

Since the 1950s, on this site, we have been using mostly the natural stream water which passes through the estate (only the ‘Sun Garden Café’ uses Government water to meet regulations). We have adopted ‘saving and recycling’ as core strategies to manage our water demands so as to stay within natural limits, leaving enough water for the wildlife in the stream. Initiatives such as water-saving farming practices, constructed wetlands for waste water recycling and other water saving devices at the KFBG have inspired many professionals and farmers from different countries to start their own exploration of self-sufficiency in water supply.

KFBG has phased out use and sale of bottled water at the Farm by 2012. Water serving points are setup for staff and visitors to get purified drinking water that is supplied ‘locally’ from our stream. (Bring your own reusable water bottle or buy one in the shop.)

Hedgerow, cover-crop and mulching at athe groforest help preserve soil and reduce evaporation. 

Swale and mini-ponds at farmland drains and retains water at the farmland longer for irrrigation.

The Constructed Wetland at KFBG helps recover organic nutrients in black water and create supply of ‘recycled’ water for multiple use.

 

 

Sustainable Food System

1. Sustainable Food Production

KFBG began adopting sustainable agriculture practices in 1995. Our two-decade long experience of converting from conventional farming to sustainable farming, and our sustainable food production demonstration models are an important resource for food production, urban agricultural research and education for the region.
 
Mainstreaming urban agriculture will be critical for feeding our population of seven million in the years to come and will also help to address many urban challenges such as food waste, the generation gap, and lack of recreational space and a community sense of belonging. Shortage of space and environmental constraints can be challenging but it is always possible to grow some of our own food. Through the provision of re-skilling courses and farming displays we enable people to reconnect their souls to the soil in order to help society to prepare for an uncertain future.
 

Some of our once mono-crop orchards were gradually converted to agroforest with over 40 crop varieties including tea, fruit and honey production. The change is helping us resolve some of the problems brought about by conventional farming and enhances the ecological services of our farming landscape. 

Our Eco-garden is beautified solely with edible plants to illustrate how a multi-functional and productive edible landscape out-performs the typical urban parks when it comes to pleasing the eye.

Aquaponics makes sustainable food production possible in soil-less environments with minimal water consumption. This technology has huge potential in enabling food production in the concrete jungle.

Growing food is possible even with only little space - farming ideas such as herb spirals, square-foot gardens, vertical farming and pot-planting are demonstrated everywhere at KFBG for inspiration.

 

2. Localised Organic Resource Recovery

We see our organic waste from canteens and plant husbandry activities as a resource, not as rubbish. All these organic resources are recovered and reused at KFBG. Mainstreaming urban agriculture in Hong Kong will enable localised organic resource recovery for local use – it not only turns waste into a resource but also cuts down transport-related fuel consumption, air pollution and carbon emission and saves space in the Landfills.

We introduced a deep litter bedding system to our poultry farming in the mid-2000s. With parallel use of indigenous micro-organisms, the system effectively captures poultry waste for recovery in a hygienic manner. Also, the system supplies probiotics for chickens and offers a soft bedding for them to display natural behaviour – it makes our animals happier and healthier.

Our aerobic composting system digests all agricultural waste and most of the horticultural waste generated at KFBG. Over 30 tonnes of high quality compost is produced every year for our food production use and sale to the public.

Various food waste composting methods such as aerobic composting, bokashi-composting and the use of black-soldier flies are in use at the KFBG for resource recovery. These live operations are an educational resource for training on organic resource management.

Since 2011, we have been using bio-charcoal technology to treat decaying wood that is generated from our regular tree management activities. The process helps carbon sequestration and the bio-charcoal can be applied in gardening and farming for soil improvement.

 

3. Community Support to Local Agriculture

Since the first decade of the new millennium, KFBG has been promoting farmers’ markets and community-supported-agriculture (CSA) schemes to foster collaboration and mutual support between food producers and consumers. Under CSA schemes the consumer has face-to-face contact with the farmer and accepts to pay a regular fee and to receive a fair share of whatever seasonal vegetables the farmer produces. Such work creates fair trade platforms for direct sale of local organic produce and tightens the relationship between producers and consumers in supporting sustainable urban agriculture in Hong Kong.

Our Central Farmers’ Market is one of the most popular market places for local organic farmers to sell fresh produce directly to consumers. It also serves as an open-air classroom for the public to learn more about sustainable living.

Over 80 people from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Mainland China joined our four-day symposium in Hong Kong in 2012 to share their CSA experience.

We have engaged the New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association to run our café since 2011 to serve vegetarian food to Farm visitors – it fosters community support to local social enterprises that help recovered psychiatric patients to reconnect with society.

 

 

Catalysing Wider Positive Change in Community

We believe ‘we are what we eat’, and any positive change in the world has to start with ourselves. We see food as the most effective pathway in helping people to reconnect their souls with the soil and society. That’s why ‘food’ is always used as the entry point of our sustainable living.

KFBG has been actively helping people plan for  community sustainable farms. This community farm at Tai Po is jointly run by a centre for the elderly and a primary school – it cultivates not only food but people-skills for community bonding.

In this government-funded housing estate food waste recycling project, we help communities understanding food waste is just a resource being placed wrongly. In less than three months, participants gradually put their hands to growing some of their own food and food sharing, which had led to an overall household food waste reduction of 15%.

Our growFOOD@HOME workshop helps city dwellers to set up micro gardens to convert part of their living space for delicious and healthy food production use.

 

The LOWcarbonDIET@HOME workshop leads participants to enjoy a healthy and sustainable diet.

 

Visit KFBG to explore your path of transition to sustainable living with us.