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Hi Paulines

How did you spend your public holiday on 2 July? Went to the beach for swimming, flied away from Hong Kong to a resort, or played mahjong with friends in an air-conditioned room? A group of over 50 people comprising SPC alumni, their family members and kids, Form 6 mentees, and friends joined the Eco-Tourism (生態旅遊) of New Life Farm (新生農場) in Tuen Mun on that sunny day.

New Life Farm is operated by New Life Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (新生精神康復會) and applies organic farming to provide fresh vegetables to the public. When we got on the coach in Kowloon Tong bringing us to the Farm that morning, we were warmly welcomed by Mr. Ding of the Farm who accompanied us to the Farm. He gave us a brief introduction of the Farm, some interesting information about eco-tourism in Hong Kong and the activities to be done in our eco-tour. When we arrived at the gate of the Farm, we found it amazing that the Farm is located amongst other high rise concrete buildings and a container storage yard in Tuen Mun. In the Farm, we visited the exhibition hall to know what is organic farming and how chemical fertilizer affects the eco-system (e.g. earthworms and many other micro-organisms in the mud are killed, the birds would be starving and die, hence no food for other animals eating birds, etc.) and causes depletion of farmland. Moreover, organic farming will not use insecticides which are all hazardous to our health. Rather, natural repellents such as fragrance herbs and sometimes stickers with insect hormones are used in protecting the growing plants from insect attacks. One of the interesting things we learnt is that organic fertilizers include decayed leaves, nails of the cows, the waste of peanuts and corn after pressing for oils, faecal materials of some animals, but those from human are not suitable as human eats too many meats!

Then we moved on to see some fragrance herbs, Chinese medicine plants and cactus. Some of the fragrance herbs like thyme, mint, basil, rosemary, dill are those that we usually use in cooking flavor dishes. In the Butterfly Garden, we saw pictures of butterflies we usually see in Hong Kong, watched how an egg evolves into a beautiful butterfly and learnt the general differences between a butterfly and a moth.

Here comes the key part of the eco-tour – we experienced working in the field ourselves! With the guidance of the Farm’s staff, we were provided with farm tools to turn over the earth to make it ready for planting seedlings. Kids could also participate as there are smaller tools. From this enjoyable but sweating experience, we understand that farmers work very hard to grow rice, fruits and vegetables. Therefore we must treasure all kinds of food. Afterwards we visited the farming areas where we could see grown up vegetables in the field. Mr. Ding advised us because of the summer rainy season, the Farm grows more melon, tomato, cucumber, etc. rather than vegetables with leaves like Pak Choi, Choi Sum, cabbages as these vegetables would likely be soaked in rain and die.

After the eco-tour, we had a lunch of delicious organic food in the Farm. All the vegetables and herbs we ate were from the Farm itself. Wow, Yummy!

Here is the website of the Farm for further information: http://www.nlpra.org.hk/eco/
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