Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Original blog post from 23rd November 2015 by Rija.
Sunday 8th November saw our first gardening open day in Fa Hong. This is the first time we run such an event.
The goal we set out for these events is to engage our community with our gardening projects in order to have more hands for developing what’s going to be more and more a source of food at our future retreats.
The ramp up
The ramp up to the event was quite hectic for me. Because I have done a lot of clearing to transform the jungle like garden into a usable growing space, there was a lot of mess , some of it include dangerous, pointy and sharp things. They needed to be cleared out to ensure a safer environment for volunteers.
At the same time, I knew I had to make lots of soil (soil is a living being, and it’s the one growing the plants, not us) if we were to do some planting on the Open Day.
I also wanted our compost heap to be ready so it could be used to discard the scraps of our veggie potluck while using it as an didactic material to explain one way to grow soil.
I’ve enlisted the help of Jessica and friends before the event to help get the composter running but it wasn’t completely ready by the Open Day.
I picked up the volunteers at the MTR and we set out to take a bus to Shek Mun Kap. I forgot it was Sunday and there were large queues of hikers/tourists also waiting for the bus. Same story for the taxi. We end up hiking all the way up to the monastery. I’m really impressed by the braveness of our volunteers. Kudos to them.
Because we arrive later than planned we went straight to the kitchen to prepare our meal together before enjoying it. It a was a great vegetarian potluck!
Also answering the call for help were a group of older women who used to be the team in charge of the garden…10 years ago.
They were already hard at work when we arrived.
I felt grateful to have met them and to have gained some of new knowledge from these veterans. It was almost like a transition rite from the older generation to the new generation.
After lunch, we got down and dirty in the garden, planting borage, tomatoes and hot pepper over two garden beds.
We ran out of soil, so we had to dig some more high quality soil from a natural deposit courtesy of the summer rains flowing through the stream that passes through the site.
The soil need to be sieved, to remove stones and other debris.
We also did work on a new bed but the poor soil needed amendment. Heroic volunteer Carol took on the hard job of mixing living soil (to bring micro-organism that the plant need to work with in order to arrange its feeding) to what was there. Sand (to improve drainage) was already added the day before by me.
And at some point, inevitably, the tool let us down.
But the spirit was high, and we got it fixed.
Our toolshed even got a makeover!
After an afternoon of work we took a well deserved rest on the rooftop.
Our objectives for the garden is to provide healthy, local, seasonal vegetables to our meditators during retreat and reduce the cost (in time and money) of food supply.
Reducing human footprint on the environment of HKIMS operation of the monastery by adopting permaculture design approach to gardening is also equally important.
Next gardening Open Day will take place on Saturday 19th December, just before Christmas. I’ll pick up the group from Ngong Ping which can be reached by bus from either Tung Chung or Mui Wo and we will then do a green hiking (we will pick up man-made trash we see on our path) down to the monastery.
Outside the open days, we also welcome volunteers to come and help out even during weekdays, feel free to contact me.
We have a What’s app group to discuss needs, progress, open days announcements, and calls for help for our gardening projects. If you want to be involved let me know and I’ll add you to the group. In any case, future Open Days will be announced in the HKIMS newsletters, on Facebook and on the Meetup group.
Thank you for reading, hope to see you in the garden soon. Feel free to email me or leave a comment below if you want to share a thought about this piece or the event.
Photos from the volunteers
Enjoying our veggie potluck