Hong Kong's Rooftop Gardens by Oscar Ponton
Hong Kong is a city which probably isn’t renowned for its urban gardens. With space at such a premium and often used for new housing developments, it seems there is little way for any sizable garden to flourish. Not to mention the severe tropical conditions which affect the city throughout the year, and can make gardening a tricky prospect at the best of times. Yet a solution to the city’s gardening problem does exist in the shape of the many idle rooftop spaces found throughout the city, which are just waiting to be transformed into small, but sustainable urban gardens.
Upon joining my post-secondary campus in September, I was informed that I would be in charge of their newly formed rooftop garden, set up by last year’s Chatteris Project Coordinator in the spring. With a little knowledge of gardening myself, having helped maintain my parents garden over the years and going to work on an organic farm in France the previous summer, I felt relatively ready for the task. But as head of the garden, it remains a continual learning experience for me, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed so far in allowing me to learn and teach so many new things to the students around me. Having formed a gardening group with students, which meets once a week to look after the garden, I have met so many wonderful local people who are truly passionate about the environment. In the course of the garden’s development we’ve grappled with Hong Kong’s heat waves and typhoons, and eventually set up three new beds with fresh produce in, ranging from kale, lettuce, green beans and cucumbers and a variety of fresh herbs and flowers.
By growing such produce, I’m able to give something back to the students which is truly rewarding for their continual hard work. Moreover, the garden helps to foster a community feel on campus between myself, local staff and students through us learning about the environment together. Just last week we managed to give the principal a bag of our freshly grown produce, which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy! There have been clear educational and communal benefits to this project, and it is fantastic to see students engage so willingly in environmental concerns when Hong Kong is a city which could arguably do more in the shape of ecological thinking.
Yet just as our rooftop garden has become an important feature on campus for both staff and students, there are equally a number of other ventures in Hong Kong who are really driving the communal gardening scene. Companies like Rooftop Republic, who have a number of urban garden sites around Hong Kong and hold workshops for businesses are doing great things for the community, whilst HK Farm in Yau Ma Tei looks to foster community participation through a number of different gardening activities. Just as these sites promote gardening on a larger scale, the wide ranging benefits of setting up your own rooftop garden are endless. Doing our own bit to serve the environment is important, and gardening is just one tool we can use to better educate people about such matters in the bustling urban metropolis of Hong Kong.