12th September 2013
Golden Rice Field Reappears in HK After 50 years – Major Harvest Event this Weekend
As debates continues surrounding the North East New Territories Development (NENTD) plan, a flower grower in Shek Wu Wai in San Tin, Yuen Long started a “revolution”! He utilised the months long resting period of his farmland and successfully grew his first ever round of rice, bringing back the golden rice field back to Yuen Long, an area which was famous for rice and fish farms. This over 60-year-old farmer is hosting a harvesting event on 15th September, and recruiting volunteers to harvest and mill the grains. The majority of the harvest will be donated to elderly, as the farmer wanted to contribute to the society at which his neighbours once helped him when he was a boy. He also wishes this experience can teach the younger generations how to cherish food.
Leung Yat-shun has been a flower grower for decades, he fully utilised the resting period of his farmland and started to grow his first round of rice in May – an eight acre of paddy rice!
Leung had to seek help from experienced farmers from the very beginning of the process. After over 120 days of hard work, and a lot of luck because typhoon and water floods did not damage his crops, the green paddy field started to turn golden. However, he had to deal with the hundreds of birds visiting his field and picking on the crops. The harvest day has finally arrived. A paddy field expert estimated that there is around a ton of rice in Leung’s field, which is a major harvest.
“I didn’t even dream that my first time of rice growing is so successful!” Leung in his tan skin smiled broadly. He also decided to name his rice “North East Rice”. He promised that besides a small amount for his own consumption, all the harvest will be milled and donated to elderly in need. Each volunteer who participate in the harvest event will be given two catty of unhusked rice.
Leung, 62 years old, said that many people living in town have no idea of how hard farmers work, they often order far too much food and eventually waste a lot of food. He thinks that if the younger generations have the opportunity to experience harvesting, milling, and other procedures of harvesting rice, they can learn to appreciate and cherish food.
“I remember in the 50s, my family was very poor. There were over ten of us and we often did not have enough food. Neighbours were very kind and cooked big pots of rice and shared with us. We were very touched and grateful,” said Leung. Many of these neighbours have moved to elderly homes, and that’s why Leung wanted to donate this harvest to the elderly – simply wanting to give back to the society.
Because of the low economic value, rice field disappeared from Hong Kong for over half a century. It’s only recently, some environmental groups and individuals have started to reintroduce rice farms in Hong Kong. Some even said “only fools would grow rice”. However, Leung decided to be a “fool” and purchased two small milling machines out of his own pocket. The tens of acre of land Leung operates is located in Shek Wu Wai in San Tin, the majority of his land however is owned by Lee Shau-kee’s Henderson Land, and some is owned by the Man’s family in San Tin.
Leung is planning to buy more seed-grain next year and expand his paddy field to 30 acres, hoping to have an even bigger harvest so that more elderly can benefit from it.
“Only through growing rice, one can learn how difficult food comes by. If the younger generations can understand the importance of not wasting food, that’s good enough for me,” Leung said.
Autumn Harvesting – Volunteers Needed:
Location: Shek Wu Wai, San Tin, Yuen Long
Date: 15th September 2013 (Sunday)
Time: From 10am (whole day)
Tools: supplied by the farm
Contact person: Mrs Leung (9252 4348)