Experimental farming project at Hong Miu Farm (康苗農場)
Hong Miu Farm in Kam Tin is one of the 13 organic production farms that came together to establish the Hong Kong Farmers Pride Association Limited, an NPO to promote local quality produce and the practice of regenerative farming. As the Chairman has been invited to take up the role of an honourable science consultant, the Hong Miu Farm was chosen as an entry point where the consultative service of the Chairman would be rendered.
A visit was paid on 18 July 2018 to collect basic data on the condition of soil and crops and to understand the existing farming practices that need to be reviewed. After three subsequent visits, it was agreed that HomelandGreen would take up about an acre of land within the farm where regenerative farming will be practiced as an experimental and demonstration site. The project attracted 40 some volunteers, mostly participants of previous workshops conducted by the Chairman.
The project was launched in mid-December 2018, where soil restoration work was first performed on 10 plots before planting crops. The aim of the project is to make use of the best available practices and state-of-the-art knowledge on the subject with a view to improving soil and plant health with lower production cost and higher yields. After trying out for several weeks for base line data collection and others, a steering committee comprising the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of HomelandGreen and the more active and regular participants was formed to coordinate the various dimensions of work of the project.
The project proceeded as planned in December 2018 with regular involvement of volunteers, and continuously yielded important findings that may help inform other farmers of better practices. Within a couple of months, the farm owner and volunteering farming friends have already noticed the difference of crop response to the new measures, and found the practices very promising.
Three workshops on the making of fish hydrolysate were held on 27 January, 3 February and 3 March 2019. Two reviews on plant performance and soil improvement were conducted on 6 and 24 March 2019. Volunteers were very much encouraged by the observations and results. Crops harvested received very good feedback on the distinctively different quality and flavour. Upon the request from the farm owner, the experimental field was extended from 10 to 15 plots by May 2019.
More acute challenges have been encountered as expected in spring and summer when weather turns warm and humid with occasional heavy torrential rain.
Within the first phase of experimentation, the project witnessed good harvest of a variety of crops, including 紅菜頭、西生菜、君達菜、香芹、芫茜、羅馬生菜、蕃茄、玉米、紫椒、潺菜、通菜, etc., with pests and weeds basically under control without applying any pesticides and weed killers. A progress review of the first phase of experiment was conducted on 19 May 2019 where data on soil penetration and microbiome were collected. Since then, the project has entered the second phase where the practices would likely be employed by the farm owner in other parts of the farm.