Starting in April 2008 Don has started an organic community farming project in Mui Wo, Lantau Island which is now produces food and is supplied to the local community.
This project was based on the idea of Transition Towns, although this is not an official Transition Town because it does not meet all the criteria. It comes in response to global warming and the Peak Oil concept.
The idea is that groups will form (e.g. farming groups) and organise themselves, becoming autonomous, with the intent to cut carbon dependency. They will meet regularly, tapping into ideas/genius of the ordinary community at a grassroots level, with no political emphasis and no leaders, simply intent on combating global warming.
Food and modern farming is dependent on cheap oil (fossil fuels used for chemical fertilisers and powering machinery). We are promoting the localisation of organisation of organic community farms.
Little is done by communities and governments, so individuals must take charge. Communities have become dependent on cheap oil. “Modern Civilisation” must find ways to cut down on this dependency, cut carbon emissions, and combat global warming. This also strengthens community ties, helping communities become more resilient to cope with shortages of oil.
I was interested in the environment and five years ago I read “Peak Oil” and was thunderstruck! Governments and powerful entities are doing nothing and denying the problem of oil delivery. Therefore I must publicise this and do it myself. The underlying motivation is that I have two children, girls of 5 and 7, and am thinking when they’re 20 what an appalling state the world will be in. I want to pass on a habitable world to them.
Transition Towns is the best response to the situation I have seen.
I spend half my weekend gardening on the allotment and various evenings on workshops and showing the community videos.
The land was donated for free and people share tools, so there wasn’t much financial outlay.
I’ve done most of the labour, but I have a team of interested people – a teacher and her students produce compost, three regulars are working on the plot and there are four occasional workers.
By gardening organically I have had to learn about the seasons. I’m developing teacher skills for presentations and marketing skills, as things don’t sell themselves. I undergo monthly activities to keep up a momentum of interest and I’ll be planning flea markets for local trade of local produce and second-hand goods.
This concept is so good – it’s common sense. It encapsulates all of my philosophical beliefs that the environment is not merely a resource, and it’s necessary to do something. Others are a great inspiration, and there’s great potential.
Locally in Hong Kong
I have started a small-scale organic farming movement. My allotment (30m x 30m) was previously unused.
Nationally in China
There is tremendous potential but no effect in China yet above the indirect raising of the profile of idea transfer.
The Transition Town idea is part of a growing movement. The Transition Town initiators know of my project here in Hong Kong. It’s the first in the China area.
In the short-term I want to develop a successful micro-farm, selling vegetables, meeting local demand with supply, embracing the Chinese community.
Long-term this project has big potential, as this is a great idea. Anyone can start one up. It’s a community effort that can heal a fractured society.
I have spread information about the “Square Foot Garden” concept – a 4sqft box containing 16 different herbs or vegetables – around schools and given talks.
I am involved in a solar-water heater project spreading word of less oil dependency.
I am producing a local food guide – for organic food.
Additionally I am setting up a “Freecycle” project – any goods the community is not using are distributed to those who need them without money being exchanged. And I want to develop a car-sharing project for my whole community.
I am trying to envision the future community – what do we want Mui Wo to look like and how do we get there within our current constraints? I believe growing and eating local food is one of the answers. Also Hong Kong could become focused around cyclists/pedestrians/communal transportation, stopping new roads being built unless they are for community use.