Uncultivated Produces from Local Organic Farms

Sustainable Living

The moist, fertile soil of farmland favors growth of plants that are cultivated on purpose as well as the unintended. Traditionally, subsistence farmers have selectively included wild edible greens on farmland and consume these uncultivated produces as accompaniments for staple cereal-based diets. On 30th June 2019, Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) conducted a public workshop at the Central Farmers’ Market at the Central Star Ferry Pier 7 to highlight the summer specials of these uncultivated produces and explained their uses.

‘Plantain, Asiatic wormwood, wild Amaranth and Purslane are examples of popular ‘wild’ produces that you might have come across at farmers markets and small stores that sell fresh, locally grown vegetables,’ said Yip Tsz Lam, KFBG Senior Agriculture Officer. ‘Farming practices like tillage and furrow irrigation create favorable growing conditions for crops as well as the unintended weeds. For long, farmers selectively retain wild edible greens to grow along dugs between crop rows. These wild edible greens are usually harvested and consumed either as wild vegetables or medicinal herbs. On the other hand, these wild species provide cover for soil protection, increase agrobiodiversity at household level and helps in buffering against the accumulation and multiplication of pests and diseases – it enriches sustainability of the farms,’ Yip added.

Ms Queenie Shum, KFBG Agriculture Officer highlighted, ‘it is important to note that the Country Parks Ordinance and Pleasure Grounds Regulation prohibit collection of any plant without a permit at country parks, the LCSD and other government lands. Farmers’ markets are the proper places for the public to purchase wild produces that are harvested from local, organic farms.’ Queenie also advised the public to pay attention to potential food safety risk due to misidentification of wild plants, environmental contamination and the toxic constituents of certain plants. General information about plant poisoning can be viewed at the online Atlas of Poisonous Plants in Hong Kong which is compiled by the Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory (www3.ha.org.hk/toxicplant/en/index.html).

‘Following the rhythm of the changing seasons is a traditional Chinese wisdom to keep our inner environment in pace with the outer environment. For example, both plantain and Asiatic Wormwood, thrive in summer in local weather, and they are popular ingredients for preparing herbal beverage and pest repellent respectively to serve the need of hot, summer months.’ Queenie added.

During the workshop, wild edible produces supplied by local organic farms were used as to make summer beverage and pest repelling scent bags. Tips for consuming other wild edible greens on farmland and their other applications are explained. Key information provided during the workshop is summarized as below:

Wild Amaranth and Purslane
While the Chinese common names of wild amaranth and purslane sound alike, they belong to the different Amaranthaceae and Portulacaceae families respectively. The stem of wild amaranth is erect, but purslane is a succulent that tends to be trailing. Amaranth can be consumed like Chinese spinach. Purslane can be eaten as a cooked vegetable and it is great to use in salads, soups or any dish you wish to sprinkle it over.

Panicled Fameflower
This belongs to the Portulacaceae family and it is also known as mock ginseng due to its ginseng-like root. Its young stem and leaves can be used in soup or stir-fry. Its adorable pink flowers make it a popular edible landscaping plant.

Belongs to the Plantaginaceae family, plantains have a long history of being used as medicinal herb.  Plantain drink is still one of the most popular ‘cooling’ beverages in Hong Kong and Guangdong area during summer.

Asiatic Wormwood
Belongs to the Asteraceae family, Asiatic wormwood has long been consumed as food and as medicine. It has a wide range of applications such as being used as an ingredient for making traditional teacake and cooked dishes, and even incenses and herbal tea for medicinal use. Its unique aroma also makes it a great insect repellent. In the old days, people put Asiatic wormwood on doors during Dragon Boat Festival to keep away evil spirits.

KFBG has been running the weekly, organic, Central Farmers’ Market at the Star Ferry Pier since 2007 to offer a fair-trade platform to bridge mutual support between local, organic farmers and consumers. The platform enables farmers to enjoy a fairer return for their hard work and allow consumers to access locally grown, organic, chemical-free greens that are in season.

About the Central Famers Market:
Date:                    Every Sunday
Time:                   11am – 5pm
Venue:                 Central Ferry Pier No.7
Organiser:            Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden, in collaboration with a group of organic farmers in Hong Kong
Public enquiry:    sla@kfbg.org
Website:               www.kfbg.org/eng/events/central-farmers-market.aspx

Media Enquiry:
Cindy Luk, Communication Officer of KFBG
Tel:                      2483 7270
Email:                  media@kfbg.org