Feb 17, 2011|
HK Magazine: Why did you decide to leave your job in the city and return to the farm?
Becky Au: As a child, I always thought of staying here to work, but I often heard people say that our farmland could be acquired by a developer at any time, so it wouldn’t be a stable job at all. After graduating from university, I secured a job at a research company, but all I did was check emails all day long. It was really boring! I wondered why going to work had to be like that? I tried to work in the city for almost three years, but I hated it.
HK: You are a rare case among the Post-80s generation, how did you become a farmer?
BA: I was born and raised in Ma Shi Po. I love this place very much. I realized that I want a job that is close to nature and to my home. Some of my friends suggested that I should build a farm here. So why not? Myself and two other post-80s farmers knew nothing about farming, so we started picking up the techniques bit by bit.
HK: Do you think it was too much of a sacrifice to quit a stable job?
BA: I don’t think so. We earn money so as to sustain our life. And what’s life? It’s “clothing, food, housing, transportation,” and I have everything I need here on the farm— we grow our own food, so we don’t have to buy any. It’s not necessary for me to get paid in order to live.
HK: How would you describe your childhood on the farm?
BA: I had a very happy and sweet childhood. I always think that children living in high-rise residential buildings are pitiful, because they are trapped inside their house by the four walls. We had a lot of stuff to play with—we can run around, ride a bike, catch fish. We have everything here. People in this village are very nice to each other and we have a very good relationship.
HK: You are bringing in new elements to the farm, such as workshops, an organic vegetable market and even concerts. What do you want to achieve through all these?
BA: People think of land like it’s a product—they think that it’s for property only and one has to make a big fortune out of it. But we think that there are many alternatives. We farmers want people to have a closer relationship with the land and tell people more about where food comes from. I want more people to visit and experience nature for themselves.
HK: What do you think the government can do to help you and the other farmers here?
BA: The government is not giving us any help; rather they want to eliminate us, as we are technically the non-indigenous inhabitants. The government sees our farm as their development area. They dare not do anything to the indigenous inhabitants, as they have to compensate them, so they take advantage of us instead. Ma Shi Po is one of the ten major infrastructure projects, and the government has begun to turn this land into the North East New Territories New Development Area. They never consulted us, but they have shown undue favor to the developers.
HK: Do you think you are different from the rest of the Post-80s generation?
BA: I think I am luckier than them, as I have my farm and I can eat the best and freshest food.
HK: Are you going to spend the rest of your life in Ma Shi Po?
BA: My grandparents and my parents were full-time farmers. I want to grow old here, like they have done.
To learn more about Becky’s farm, go to mapopo.wordpress.com (website in Chinese only).