Sam: Mr. Sam Ng (吳志森先生)
Chow: Mr. Chow Sze Chung (周思中先生)
I would like to ask Chow Sze-chung how you define your identity. Do you define yourself as a farmer, a PhD candidate, a social activist or a conservationist? Who do you think about yourself?
Since we started Sangwoodgoon, I guess I or we have been moving towards the identity of a farmer, but we may not be a fully qualified farmer.
Not a fully qualified farmer? How can someone become a fully qualified farmer?
We are not consuming 100% of the crops we produce, because before we started farming, we have our own work. Some of us or we were mostly teachers, some engaged in artistic and creative work etc. In fact, since the set-up of Sangwoodgoon, we have been learning farming while learning how to incorporate and integrate perfectly our lives into farming work in the field.
Have you been moving towards this direction?
Yes, and in fact, we’ve been moving forward for several years.
But you don’t think you have yet to reach a perfect realm, do you?
Not very perfect, but we have been progressing indeed. We can manage our farmland to produce crops all year round, and it is a good way to the environment. Coupled with what we want to do, we don’t simply grow and sell vegetables, but we also make use of the food as a medium to bring people and food as well as food and land together to form a closer community relationship.
As I know your farming life began in a social movement called the anti-high-speed railway in Choi Yuen Village. After the reconstruction of the village, you became a farmer. Can you tell us how and why you made the change?
In fact, it was very simple. When we were protecting the village, because we found that the construction of the high-speed railway was a white elephant (project), in which there were uncovered deals between businesses and the government. Another reason was about the villagers’ life we deeply felt. Both current and previous villagers have told us that they do not only have their own work outside, but they also have their work in their own home and fields. This part of the work is just like a circuit to help them sustain living by means of crops or food. We felt it was a good thing. We should not forget this lifestyle because of the initial construction of the high-speed railway after the funding had been approved. We believe we should protect the village and this way of life. We then began to think about putting it into practice rather than simply appreciating their lives. It is not reasonable to let this disappear while it has been actually a good way to live. We felt upset but we didn’t seem to be really willing to develop this way of life in person.
Do you want to put this in practice in your life?
Yes, so we started from scratch because the friends establishing Sangwoodgoon are 100% people from the city. We then started from none, or even from negative value. How should I describe this? I would say we try to get rid of all bias and prejudice before we can continue.
You didn’t really exercise much or know anything about any crops, did you?
More or less, don’t think my tanned skin was due to the fact that I like hiking. On the contrary, my tanned skin colour is inborn and natural.
So it is, and in fact you don’t know much about agriculture at all?
No, not really.
I have seen some information about your experience; the anti-high-speed railway movement in Choi Yuen Village was about the use of land on the issue of urban planning. Now jump to talk about your individual life. Farming with another group of people, you have your own space. Do you think it is moving forward or backward in terms of an individual? Or moving forward with little backward? Or moving backward with little forward?
The latter idea fits better our situation. Frankly speak, people may ask if we have a high-profile slogan in the farming practice, or they think we want to change the world, or to overturn something. However, I don’t think we target for these purposes. I think the forward part is when we began to learn farming, it seemed there were several doors open for us. The doors told us where we should start if we want to make changes. In fact, there is a lot of meaning in farming. If we want to practise farming continuously, it’s like the relationship that the farmer is in the middle while one side is the soil and ecology, and the other side is the customers and those receiving our vegetables. In fact, this relationship must be maintained well so as to become sustainable. This kind of agriculture is meaningful, not simply the trade of agricultural products. The process of reaching this outcome may be very slow and negligible, but I think the effect is far-reaching. For the customers and ourselves, all the learning and meaning will become impressive and unforgettable. For example, some kids have been coming to our farms from two years old to currently four or five years old. From the past when they didn’t use to talk and they used to be afraid of insects to nowadays they are very happy, and bring their own water shovels and other small tools to play there. They even go back to school and pretend to know a lot of agricultural knowledge. If you ask me, when I was young, I didn’t have particular feeling towards farmland because we were far away from it, and we had no practical or physical experience. Nowadays we have fields here; they will come to experience and play on Sundays. They have the opportunity to see what is beneficial to the farmland. They begin to know more (about farming). We are now in very small scale, but hope to cultivate the farmland and the kids.
I’m impressed with the phrase you’ve just mentioned, that is there must be ‘a starting point’ before we can move forward. People in the past usually had great ideals, or great fantasies, while today they may be down to earth, start to move forward from a starting point, and see how far they can go.
That’s it, isn’t that?
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