I think our attempt to get a CSA going with Mabel’s organic farm may have been a bit premature. I’ve now stopped receiving a $100 basket each week, and just go along to buy whatever she’s got available, which might mean I spend less or more than $100. Mabel is still in the process of expanding the area under cultivation, and she’s increasing the range of vegetables she’s growing, but she’s not really at the stage where she can guarantee a mixed basket of vegetables every week, so we’ll probably have to come back to the CSA idea when the farm’s ‘matured’ a bit more. In the meantime, I’d thoroughly recommend to anyone who knows how to get to Luk Tei Tong in Mui Wo to go to her farm and see what she’s doing, and buy some of her splendid organic produce. With the imposing hills of Lantau as a backdrop, it’s a pleasure to walk around her farm and select the veggies you want. The beds are all meticulously laid out and kept scrupulously clean – maybe not what a permaculturist would practise! – and there are always tips to pick up from her about such things as how to keep birds off your plants. I was impressed by her improvement on the CD idea, namely cutting off the tops of cans and hanging them from a bamboo cane so that they turn and flash in the breeze whilst also tinkling against the cane. Unlike CDs the cans don’t lose their sparkle so easily.
At the moment she’s got a variety of lettuces, some garland chrysanthemums – which are very tasty – carrots, sugar cane, some bananas, turmeric and such things as potatoes, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, onions, cabbages and bak choi all coming along nicely and which augur well for the coming months. Just walking up and down the paths between the beds, seeing the different types of cover she’s got for different plants, and how she protects her tomatoes, is an education, and you can’t help but admire the large shed she’s erected and the arrangements for supplying water to the plot. Everything is very impressive.
More people are noticing what she’s doing there, and they are usually excited to learn that she’s doing it organically, so hopefully her clientele will grow, and at the same time let’s hope she influences other farmers in the area to grow things organically. Buying fresh organic produce from your local farmer is one of the very few bits of shopping you can do that make you feel proud of yourself! Get down there and try it yourself.