Farming and Gardening Collide at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens

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Hong Kong is known to be a busy city with constant noise and movement from its residents. But outside the city, approximately nine kilometers away, lies the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens. This Botanic Garden is unique in that it contains not just gardens, but farming terraces, and a native forest at the base of Kwun Yum Shan, an 1800-foot-tall mountain. The Gardens were started in 1956 to give agricultural help to farmers in need. From there the Gardens have expanded to include themed gardens, educational buildings, and walking trails.

Dr. Gunter Fischer, a director at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens, was interviewed about how farming and gardening work together. Gunter explained that the Garden uses their heritage of aid to continue helping farmers and impoverished families in the area. But the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens is also looking to the future and trying to educate their visitors on sustainable living. The Garden use the combination of farming and gardening to show how conservation has impacted plant biodiversity, as well as the effects of sustainable farming. Gunter explained that the organic farming happening at the Garden is sustainable because the workers are using the soil in a more sustainable way. The Garden also gets the local communities involved by offering programs on sustainable agriculture and gardening.

Not only does the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens host a spectacular array of sustainable farmland, but they also have forests that include wildlife, such as reptiles, raptors, and leopards. The Garden also has a Wild Animal Rescue Center that functions as a privately run wild animal hospital. Here the Garden treats and rehabilitates wild and endangered animals such as pangolins, turtles, bats, and even crocodiles. Between 1994 and 2015, the Garden received over 36,000 wild animals to treat. When asked if the animals have impacted the farming and gardening at Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens, Gunter said no. He explained that the Garden had a sewing plant to utilize their 159 hectares of gardening space, but it depended on the locations of the gardens. The largest part of this land is a nature reserve, and allows for local wildlife to be protected from nearby development. The other gardens are separated from the animal houses.

The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens boasts a self-sustained eco-garden, illustrating the elements needed for successful organic gardening. The eco-garden is used as a classroom model for visitors to learn more about how to use self-sustaining gardening for themselves. The recent rise in community gardens within Hong Kong gives an added value to the eco-garden, as visitors can ask for help and advice on developing local gardens within communities. The Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Gardens illustrates the importance of gardening even within an urban area, as well as the harmony that can be achieved with farming and gardening together, as long as both are done sustainably.

This post was written and made possible by BGCI Intern, Kenna Castleberry.