香港兴起有机农场 / Hong Kong’s Organic Farming Boom

香港兴起有机农场

近来随着对食品安全顾虑的增多,大家都在寻求更健康的饮食。我对健康一直都不是特别的在意,但确实也比以前更加注重饮食和保健。我还发现,在朋友和同事当中,这已经成为一种潮流。

最近,我在香港签订了一个有机蔬菜送货上门的服务协议,就是让他们把当地种植的有机蔬菜直接送到我家。这家农场附属于美式意大利餐厅Posto Pubblico,餐厅位于香港的伊利近街,就在时尚的苏豪区内,开业刚满一年。

餐厅的美国创始人以供应新鲜可口的蔬菜为荣。几个月前,我在和他们聊天的时候得知,为了保持品质,他们在新界自有的有机农场内种植蔬菜,供给厨房使用。由于产量充足,还可以供应直销市场,于是他们就在一家快递公司的协助下,推出了送菜上门的服务。

我刚使用这项服务几个星期,但我不得不说他们的服务真是太棒了:各式各样的新鲜蔬菜每周一次送货上门(如果你愿意,也可以每周送两次货),而且价格比零售店同等的有机产品还便宜。也就是说比超市或露天市场的非有机产品贵,但又比零售店的有机产品便宜。口感也确实不同。

我喜欢这家餐厅加农场的经营模式,因为它彰显了老板为践行品质承诺而锐意创新的精神。(完全爆料:我跟这家餐厅或农场没有任何商业或其他利益上的关联。)

有趣的是,从大环境上看,香港的有机农场正在蓬勃发展。几年前,香港大概只有15家有机农场,主要分布在新界的两个地区。而如今有机农场已经超过了160家,遍布各个区域。香港渔农署还专门设立机构,为新兴或现有的有机农场提供支持和咨询服务。还有一类自助有机农场,人们可以在那儿租上一小片地,亲自耕种。

这证明了“绿色运动”拥护者长期倡导的两个要素:有机本地种植

香港目前98%的蔬菜依靠进口,主要来自于大陆。如果和不久前的70年代相比,那时香港的蔬菜还基本能够实现自给自足,而后来的发展趋势显而易见:城市化的加剧迫使养殖和农业发生迁徙。曾经的农田如今已经变身为繁华的城区、集装箱库房和汽车修理厂。

但令大多数人惊讶的是,这一切其实都发生在最近,而且离不开中国改革政策的影响。

迄今为止,香港的农业用地仅余19平方公里,务农人员不足5,000人。和其它许多行业一样,香港农民也已深入内地不同区域谋求发展。

近来有机农场的兴起不会扭转香港农业的根本趋势,但却受到注重健康的消费者的欢迎。

有机农场的概念在内地应该也有发展的空间吧。希望如此。

Hong Kong’s Organic Farming Boom

In these days of rising concerns about food safety, we’re all looking for ways to maintain a healthier diet. I’ve never been a health fanatic, but I pay a lot more attention to diet and fitness than I used to; and I find that this is a widespread trend among many of my friends and associates.

We recently signed up for an organic vegetable delivery service in Hong Kong, which delivers locally grown organic veggies to your home. The farm is an affiliate of an American-style. Italian restaurant called Posto Pubblico, on Elgin Street, in Hong Kong’s trendy Soho District, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary.

The restaurant’s American founders pride themselves on serving really fresh, delicious vegetables; and in a conversation with one of them some months back I learned that in order to deliver consistent quality, they grow the vegetables for their kitchen on their own organic farm in Hong Kong’s New Territories. Production is of sufficient volume to sell to customers directly as well, so they launched the farm-to-home delivery service, with the assistance of a delivery company.

I’ve only been a customer for a couple of weeks, but I must say it’s a great service so far: a good variety of delicious fresh veggies, delivered to your door once (or if you prefer, twice) a week, at prices which are lower than local retail prices of comparable organic produce. That is to say, higher in price than regular non-organic produce from supermarkets or wet markets, but lower in price than other organic produce available in retail outlets. And yes, you can taste the difference.

One thing I like about this restaurant-plus-farm venture is that it demonstrates the founders’ commitment to innovate and develop something new and different in order to live up to their quality commitment. (Full disclosure: I have no commercial or other interest in either the restaurant or the farm. I just enjoy their products and service.)

An interesting backdrop to this is that organic farming is on an upswing in Hong Kong. A few years ago there were about 15 organic farms, located mainly in two parts of the New Territories. Today there are more than 160, spread across a wider range of districts. The Hong Kong Government’s Agriculture and Fisheries Department has a special unit offering support and advice to aspiring or existing organic farmers. There is even a do-it-yourself organic farm where individuals can rent a small plot of land and grow their own.

This illustrates two key qualities which proponents of the “green movement” have long espoused, namely organic as well as locally grown.

Some 98% of Hong Kong’s vegetables are currently imported, mainly from the Chinese mainland. Contrast that with as recently as the late 1970s, when Hong Kong was almost self-sufficient in vegetable production, and you can see the unmistakable trend: rapid urbanization and a shift away from animal and crop agriculture. Where there were farmlands, now there are bustling new towns, container yards, and automotive repair facilities.

But it will come as a surprise to many that this is actually a fairly recent development, which would not have been possible without China’s reform. policies.

As of today, only 19 square kilometers of land in Hong Kong is still being farmed, by less than 5,000 farmers. As in many other trades, Hong Kong farmers have also expanded across the border into various parts of China.

The recent boom in organic farming is unlikely to reverse the fundamental trend away from agriculture in Hong Kong, but in the meantime it’s a very welcome development for health-conscious consumers.

And maybe it’s an idea with room to grow across the border as well. Let’s hope so.


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