Annual Report - Activities in 2016
HomelandGreen was established on 17 June 2013, the World Day to Combat Desertification and was incorporated in Hong Kong under the Companies Ordinance on 5 August 2013 as a Hong Kong based non-profitmaking association of volunteers established to enhance public awareness of the threat posed by desertification and land degradation to the world’s sustainable development. We put our motto "Be just to the earth, for the good of all being"《善待土地・惠澤眾生》into practice through
- collaborating with Hong Kong and overseas institutions and organisations with similar mission;
- working with local farmers on regenerative soil improvement projects;
- supporting civilian tree planting projects in China to combat desertification;
- organising talks and workshops to disseminate the relevant knowledge and skills to the public, and
- sharing our studies and research findings through our website and Facebook.
Since our inception, the activities we have conducted can be classified into six categories:
- Liaison work;
- Our own study and visit;
- Voluntary tree planting;
- Educational services in the form of talks and workshops for the public and sponsorship of study trips for voluntary project leaders;
- Research projects; and
- Production of educational materials, videos and writings for sharing purposes.
Our major sources of income are private donation and relevant funding schemes of the Government, and our major activities are voluntary tree planting, educational services and researches.
- NPO-GreenLife, a non-profitmaking organisation established via the Sino-Japanese Friendship Association by Madam Yi Jiefang to combat desertification through voluntary tree planting in Inner Mongolia, China, is the working partner of HomelandGreen in voluntary tree planting projects. Mme Yi and her husband, Dr Yang Antai are the Honourable Patrons of HomelandGreen.
- HomelandGreen has also established connections with various international well-known organisations, including Farming Secrets, Australia and Soil FoodWeb Institute (Australia) (SFI Australia). Chris Ellery, CEO of SFI Australia, is a professional partner of HomelandGreen in research work, training and promotion of regenerative farming.
- Further to sponsoring one Hong Kong farmer in 2015, HomelandGreen sponsored three farmers to receive training of regenerative farming from Soil SFI Australia in November 2016.
- HomelandGreen has subscribed to Grower and Participating membership of Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) of USA from which training materials in regenerative farming in the form of videos and written were procured. These materials are also useful for preparing educational materials for local public consumption through talks, workshops, our website and Facebook, etc. The professional relationship thus built also helps facilitate exchanges on good practices among international counterparts.
2.1 Study trips were made to Northern and North-western China to understand the seriousness of the problem of desertification in China, the effectiveness of the work of the Chinese National Forestry in combating desertification, the collaboration of the local governments with voluntary agencies like NPO-GreenLife, the operational mode of NPO-GreenLife and its effectiveness, the improvement in local ecology as a result of these reforestation effort and the benefits to the local farmers with such measures. To study water erosion sites, visits were paid to Southern China near the Guangdong area and to the Philippines. Comparative study was made on the National Plan of the two countries to combat desertification within the UNCCD framework. Liaison made with relevant project managers of the various rehabilitation sites has since been established so that HomelandGreen can be kept abreast of the latest development in science, technology and national policies regarding this aspect of environmental conservation efforts. These update knowledge and information helps HomelandGreen refine the nature and content of our voluntary tree planting projects in partnership with NPO-GreenLife.
2.2 Locally, our visit and study on land degradation problem differs from the above in that we are more concerned about land degradation problem in terms of food production. Within the 2015-2016 period, visits were paid to local farms to study the extent of soil degradation in terms of organic matter depletion, soil microbiology diminution, mineral deficiencies, compaction and flooding issues, etc. Site visits include farms in Ping Che, Fanling, Nam Chung, Tai Tong, Kam Tin, Ho Sheung Heung, Ta Kwa Ling and the Indus River. Liaison are made with farmers working in these farms to explore the possibility of the introduction of the practice of regenerative farming to address the issues of nutrition, pests and weeds management in these farm land.
3.1 HomelandGreen took part in the first tree planting activity in the third plantation site of NPO-GreenLife in Duolun, Inner Mongolia on 5-8 April 2013. This activity is part of the project ‘Million mu of Pinus sylvestris’ through which the Chinese Forestry aims to reverse the desertification process north of the Beijing and Tianjin area. HomelandGreen was invited to speak at the commencement ceremony which marked the formal commencement of the participation of HomelandGreen in the voluntary tree planting work of NPO-GreenLife in Inner Mongolia. Since then, members often offered complementary lectures to the voluntary participants of tree planting activities covering such topic as the problem of desertification in China, the various projects undertaken by the Chinese Forestry to combat desertification and the ecological and historical significance of the Duolun County.
3.2 For the 2014-2016 period, HomelandGreen helped organise voluntary tree planting trips to Duolun for secondary school teachers and students from Hong Kong and the general public. Complementary lectures on the various related issues are always given to participants to enrich their tree planting experiences.
3.3 HomelandGreen, in collaboration with two other voluntary organisations, The Graduate Association of Colleges of Education and Mobile Schooling, organized a voluntary tree planting to Duolun, Inner Mongolia for 40 students from five secondary schools and 10 students from two higher education institutes in June 2016, under the partial sponsorship by the Commission on Youth of the Home Affairs Bureau under the Funding Scheme for Youth Exchange in the Mainland 2016-17. In addition to tree planting, the students also visited schools in Duolun and sites of rehabilitated land. For this event, HomelandGreen compiled a 52 page reference booklet for participants to delve into the concept of desertification and the various efforts and strategies initiated by the Chinese Forestry Bureau to address the issue of land degradation in China. Briefing for participants were held before trip and a reunion of the participants was organised on 10 December 2016, five months after the trip, to consolidate participants’ environmental awareness and the commitment to work towards a more sustainable future. As the educational experience was highly recommended by the participating schools, HomelandGreen would adopt similar approach in her future endeavour in organising voluntary tree planting trips.
- HomelandGreen has been invited to give talks, workshop, etc. by various environmental concern groups and schools on the topic of land degradation and rehabilitation, and regenerative farming. These always led to the organisation of voluntary tree planting trips in collaboration with NPO-GreenLife. HomelandGreen also sponsored local farmers to trainings in the Mainland and overseas. HomelandGreen submitted her response to the Government’s consultation Paper on Sustainable agriculture in HK and attended the consultation session.
- HomelandGreen paid regular visits to the charitable Blessing Farm (築福農莊) on Sundays sharing with voluntary farmers knowledge about soil tests, thermal composting, soil biology, land rehabilitation and regenerative farming, etc. YouTube videos of such sharing are made and disseminated to other practitioners through social network of the volunteers.
- Practical sessions on composting, compost tea and Bokashi making were run on alternate Sundays in 築福農莊 to a wider audience of voluntary farmers. YouTube videos on these practical sessions were made and spread among practitioners through social networks.
- HomelandGreen has been running a study group which meets monthly with local young organic farmers to share with them updated scientific knowledge about soil health and rehabilitation and offers on site advice to their farms.
- In collaboration with 鄉土學社, HomelandGreen gave a talk on soil science on 30 January 2016, attracted some thirty participants from all walks of life interested in sustainable farming. Participants’ feedback on the talk was very positive and certain organic farmers expressed interest to learn more about the potential of regenerative farming in addressing global warming issues. A network of farmers was then formed and HomelandGreen continuously disseminate relevant knowledge to these farmers to support their endeavour in ecological farming.
- HomelandGreen met with another 16 young organic farmers on 31 January 2016 and began working on plans to run workshops on thermal composting and microscopy for the practitioners of three farms in preparation of their participation in HomelandGreen’s research project on carbon and nutritional farming.
- On 25 February 2016, HomelandGreen was invited by Eco Association (環保生態協會) for a radio program to talk about ‘combating desertification through tree planting’. The program was broadcasted through RTHK CIBS as the ninth program of the 《城市人環保生活智慧》series entitled 「荒漠變綠林—您也可參與」。
- On 22 May 2016, HomelandGreen was invited by the charitable Blessing Farm to give a talk on regenerative farming to a group of 80 secondary school students from two schools with their principals and teachers. Students were introduced to the use of Brix meter to measure quality of farm produce and got some hands-on experience on thermal composting.
- On 21 and 24 June 2016, HomelandGreen gave two talks to students from five secondary schools on the threat of desertification as an ecological hazard and shared with participants the concepts of regenerative farming and tree planting as means for carbon sequestration that may help address the issue of global warming.
- Between July and November 2016, HomelandGreen had begun to offer free mentorship service to some seven farms run by young ecological farmers on regenerative farming. Mentorship service include workshops, talks, on-site consultative service, soil and plant analysis and hands on demonstrations on composting and compost tea brewing, etc.
- In November 2016, HomelandGreen sponsored three young organic farmers to attend a Certificate Course in Nutritional Farming organized by Nutri-tech Solutions in Yandina, Australia and another Certificate Course in Regenerative Farming organized by SFI Australia, the professional partner of HomelandGreen in Lismore, Australia. HomelandGreen continues to offer follow-on consultative service and technical support to these three young farmers to put regenerative farming into practice in their respective farms. They are also encouraged to form networks with other ecological farmers who can also benefit from the consultative and technical support of HomelandGreen.
One objective of HomelandGreen is to conduct research projects in regenerative farming and share results and findings with local practitioners how to produce environmental friendly, cost effective nutritional farm products through putting into practice the latest scientific knowledge on the subject while at the same time appeal to the public to support regenerative or carbon farming as a way of soil rehabilitation and carbon sequestration so as to play our role in addressing global warming issues.
The following progress has been made.
5.1 Thermal composting with 100% plant wastes has been put to trial and quality of thermal composts has been monitored through microscopy. One experimental farm in Sheung Shui has put the thermal compost into use and, together with no till and mulching, managed to produce 100% chemical-free quality products. The farm has attracted the attention of practitioners nearby resulting in an increasing demand for workshops on thermal composting using 100% natural plant wastes material and microscopy to monitor the improvement in soil quality and farm products.
5.2 A mini experiment on agroforestry was conducted in a Fanling farm where Moringa, Jute leaves and Pigeon peas were used as mixed cropping on a small sloping paddock with very poor soil. Visitors to the farm witnessed the management of weeds using the principle of plant transition. Continuous harvesting of the three economic crops began from April to September of 2016 with almost no input except shredded dry leaves proving that low cost chemical free farming is feasible with proper use of scientific knowledge about soil biology and plant growth. Since then, dissemination of knowledge and principles underlying regenerative farming to voluntary workers of the farm has become a continuous and routine practice.
5.3 Project on Soil improvement, regenerative and nutritional farming
HomelandGreen is in the process of collaborating with farmers from six local organic farms on a research project on soil improvement and regenerative and nutritional farming. The various stages of development are outlined below.
5.3.1 Hands on training with relevant background scientific knowledge will be offered to the practitioners of these six collaborative farms where they will put into practice the basic principles of regenerative farming, i.e. mulching, thermal composting, multi- and mixed cropping, no till and chemical free. Baseline data based on microscopy, soil tests, leave tests and produce tests will be collected about their soil condition at the start and closely monitored for 24 months. Results of soil improvement will be documented as increase in soil organic matter (SOM), quantity and diversity of soil microorganism, improvement in soil quality and produce parameters.
5.3.2 Suitable candidates were sponsored to receive training from Nutri-tech Solutions Australia on Mineral management, Plant management, Pest management, Microbe management and Human health management so that these farmers can approach their farm work with a comprehensive scientific framework to produce quality farm produce ecologically that can eventually bring health to the consumers. They will also receive training with the Soil Foodweb concept from SFI Australia, the professional partner of HomelandGreen in Australia.
5.3.3 The changing process in these farms will be documented through data collection and microscopy. HomelandGreen intends to summarise these findings into a kind of display to be staged in public places and schools so that more Hong Kong people will become aware of these scientific advancements in the understanding of the symbiotic relationship between healthy soil, healthy farm produce, human health and health of our planet and that healthy and sustainable farming practice is the key.
5.3.4 During the process, workshops and talks will be run for interested practitioners and the six collaborative farms will be open for visitors who want to know more about regenerative farming and quality and healthy farming produce. Invitation will be sent to schools to allow school students to have hands on experience on this very important dimension of future food supply and soil conservation and their relation to global warming.
5.3.5 Baseline data has begun to be collected as from October 2016.
6.1 Translation work:
- HomelandGreen helped produce the English version of the NPO-GreenLife Annual promotional booklets and the various media coverage on Mme Yi Jeng Feng’s voluntary afforestation work to facilitate the communication of NPO-GreenLife with international friends and her story made known to a larger international audience. This kind of work began in 2013 and has been continued through the 2015-16 period.
- HomelandGreen, in response to the appeal of the 5 December World Soil Day and the 17 June World Day for Combating Desertification of the UNCCD, produced Chinese subtitles for the YouTube videos The Soil Story, IYS_the Living Kingdom beneath our Feet, Microbes in the Living Soil, Soil Solution to Climate Change for easy reference of the local public.
- As an ongoing initiative, HomelandGreen shares international reputable web-based scientific findings, eg. UNFAO, etc. on regenerative farming to the local general public through Chinese translation work and/or preparing reading guides in Chinese.
- Upon the invitation of the Editorial Board of the HK ICAC Journal for Moral Education, Chairman of HomelandGreen wrote an article 堅持in their Fortieth Anniversary Issue to share with the public problems of desertification in China and the efforts made by the forestry workmen in combating desertification and point out the importance of tree planting in combating desertification around the globe.
- HomelandGreen produced a series of thirteen articles entitled ‘Soil and Life’ in Chinese for dissemination to farming practitioners and published on the web to raise public awareness of the importance of beneficial microorganism in soil productivity.
- A series of articles on China’s history of combating desertification including advancement in scientific understanding of the issue as well as development in relevant technologies and skills were produced and published on the web.
- A series of articles covering different periods in the history of Duolun, Inner Mongolia, from which one can deduce the change in ecology of the area over time is produced. The articles serve the educational purpose of raising awareness of the volunteers who come to Duolun for tree planting that desertification is the result of improper soil management.
- A series of articles on combating desertification in countries other than China is produced and published on the HomelandGreen website to raise public awareness of the seriousness of world-wide land degradation problem and the importance of revegetation and practice of regenerative farming as one of the strategies to alleviate the detrimental effect on environment and food security.
- HomelandGreen has compiled a reference booklet on combating desertification in China for reference of secondary school teachers, students and the public who wants to know more about how serious is the problem of desertification in China and what the Chinese Forestry Bureau has done to combat desertification in the past 60 years. As one of the plantation sites of NPO-GreenLife, professional partner of HomelandGreen in mainland China, is located in Duolun, Inner Mongolia, which is the major county responsible for the Beijing and Tianjin area sandstorm source control project, a whole chapter was devoted to the ecological change in Duolun and the nearby county for reference of the participants in voluntary tree planting in Duolun.
HomelandGreen has produced 11 videos on cases of successful revegetation or rehabilitation of degraded land through agroforestry for public education on the topic. Another six videos were produced to illustrate the various skills involved in making backyard thermal composts and microscopy work to monitor the quality of composts for farmers who want to put principles of regenerative farming into practice.
- Educational materials in the form of PowerPoint
HomelandGreen produced four PowerPoint presentations for educational purposes to be introduced to the public through talks, workshops, etc. to disseminate scientific knowledge about soil health and plant health and regenerative farming.
All materials produced by HomelandGreen are open for access for the purpose of public education through the HomelandGreen website.
All teaching materials produced by HomelandGreen can also be accessed by the public through the Facebook of HomelandGreen.