Slowly but surely worthwhile things are happening in this area of Lantau. Paul Melsom’s tree restoration project now seems to have got some official backing from the government and they’ve helped him establish a good firebreak around part of his planting area, plus signs to inform walkers of where not to walk, as well as a footpath and rainshelter. Paul has noticed an increase in the biodiversity of the area as his trees mature. Not far away, Jenny Quinton’s Ark Eden project has made a big increase in the number of trees planted, and before too much longer there will be a broad swathe of native trees reclaiming the hills surrounding Mui Wo. Both Paul and Jenny do a lot of work educating schoolkids about the environment through active participation in restoration projects and the like.
Meanwhile, down in Luk Tei Tong Mabel has established her organic farm and is setting a fine example to the rest of us who are endeavouring to grow organic food. I don’t think it will be too much longer before she gets organic certification. Just recently she’s been making some rosella wine, which would make an ideal gift for Christmas. Next to her farm a composting machine is in the process of being installed – but does it really need all that concrete to support a composter? – which will take kitchen waste from a local housing estate and turn it into compost for local farmers.
My own farm, worked by the incomparable Bhola with his Nepalese expertise, is taking shape next to Mabel’s, and I must say it’s really great being able to eat fresh, organic greens every evening. We should soon be harvesting a mix of other vegetables to complement the greens. Close by, Kate Ringrose’s family and mine share a plot which we work at the weekends, although Bhola is now able to take care of that during the week, so we don’t have to worry about things dying through lack of water in this extraordinarily dry year.
We’ll soon be adding a beehive to the farm, as we’ve been introduced to the wonders of bee keeping by Jacqueline Hampshire and Didier Molle, who have been enormously helpful in getting a whole group of us out to visit various bee farms around Hong Kong. This has led to a sizeable number of people getting a hive of their own, so we can expect to see South Lantau honey for sale before too long, I hope.
And TSL’s Swap Parties have also done a bit to reduce our addiction to buying more and more stuff. Instead of buying we just bring stuff along that we don’t want, but which is in good condition and swap it for something we do want from the mix of stuff that other people bring along. It’s a good way of offloading things that are no longer of use, and picking up a few things to replace them, all for free, no money exchanges hands and no one cares about the respective value of the things we swap, it’s just one for one.
In fact, that’s likely to be our first New Year event as there are bound to be lots of post-Christmas things that people want to get rid of so look out for the poster in a month or so!