LEUNG, Yee Kei Peony
BBA-JD Programme/ Year 1
In concrete jungles, we don’t expect to see vibrant plant life. However, a small oasis can be found on rooftops of industrial buildings around Hong Kong, as seen during the visit on 26th January to a rooftop farm.
One particular thing that struck me was the passion of the farmers. It cannot be easy for the farmers to make a living in an environment as inconducive are extremely hostile, greenhouses are seen as illegal structures, and the government is apathetic to rooftop farming, which are all factors as to why they cannot really turn a profit with the things they grow. It may seem unrealistic to many of us to continue operating a business that continuously runs up a loss, but not to these rooftop farmers. Their passion is evident in their relationships with the other farmers, the competition for secondary school students they host to spread awareness, even the care they put into building the many parts of the farm like the drying room and the shop, all in the hope that one day more people will know of the work they do. To me, the only reason the farmers would continue their work despite losing money relates to the Ladder of Love in Plato’s “Symposium”. Their love for the work they do and their passion for farming has exceeded physical and mental beauty and knowledge itself. Instead they love the Beauty evident in ecosystems that surround them, which is the highest rung of the ladder. This pure, undiluted essence of Beauty is the only reason, to me, they are willing to continue this hard, thankless job without evident compensation.
Moreover, the concept of rooftop farming itself reminds of Eryximachus’ concept of love being the reconciling of different elements and creating harmony from discordance, as plant life coexist with the concrete buildings around it, and is dependent on facilities and technology to flourish. From dead, inanimate buildings, beauty is brought forth in the form of beautiful plants. This seems like a form of love, and this product is to me the moderation Eryximachus proposed to be necessary.
One of the farmers overheard me saying I loved butterfly pea flowers and gave me a pod of three seeds, which I accepted after much hesitation. His passion for farming was even more evident then, so much so that he was willing to allow me to experience it for myself as well. I look forward to putting these seeds in soil and seeing them flourish, to experience the satisfaction that poured out of the farmers at the prospect of reaping what they have sown.
Wong Sung Hei
B.Sc. in Quantitative Finance/ Year 2
As a student studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the busy academic works and studies made us too busy from experiencing the work life of special industry in Hong Kong, the field trip of visiting the rooftop farmland was undoubtedly a great opportunity for me to understand better of the life of rooftop farmers and their insights. After the field trip, I was astonished by the creativity of establishing a farmland over the rooftop of urban area in Hong Kong. I have understood the struggling of Hong Kong farmer, due to the changing climate in and the lack of flat land in Hong Kong, it is getting harder for the farmers to treat farming as their life-long career. Yet, farming will bring quite a lot of benefit to the city, such as a greener city and better air conditions.
At the same time, after the field trip, I have started to pay more attention to the fairness of profit distribution to the farmer. Farmers undoubtedly play an important role in terms of producing foods. However, even the high market price of the products we are buying, farmers might not share a substantial proportion of the price as their profit. It is essential to respect the contribution of farmers. Without farmers, we are unable to maintain our lives.