Introducing Hong Kong’s newest and most innovative eco-festival, GreenFest, a youth-orientated event held on Hysan Place’s rooftop farm that aims to arm the next generation with the tools to make a greener world.
Whilst a busy shopping mall in a polluted city may seem an unlikely venue for an environmental festival, the organisers of new sustainability event GreenFest are adamant there’s no better place to tackle Hong Kong’s urgent issues. “It’s a lovely idea to think that we can all just live in rural farmlands and produce our own food, but we can’t,” says Jacqueline Faulkner of urban farming company Rooftop Republic. “There are too many people and we need to address the problem from inside the city first.” And you don’t get more ‘inside the city’ than on a rooftop farm located on the 38th floor of a shopping centre above Causeway Bay. Hive Life sat down with Jacqueline to hear how this new festival plans to give the youth of Hong Kong the knowledge and skills to change their city for the greener.
Hosted by Hysan Place, one of Hong Kong’s busiest malls, GreenFest is a sustainability festival squarely aimed at the young – and Hong Kong’s first event with an exclusive guest list aged 15 – 17. Partnering with urban farming pioneers Rooftop Republic, the commercial centre is inviting Hong Kong’s teenagers to “Rethink Our Food” and get their hands dirty with two days of growing and learning in a series of interactive events. “The activities are going to be full and hands on,” says Jacqueline, Rooftop Republic’s events coordinator. “We want to give them solutions rather than just problems.” Separated into three sections, GROW, EAT and DISPOSE, the event aims to – quite literally – hand the next generation the tools to create a greener future.
Starting with GROW, the festival will attempt to close the rift between the cooked meals the city eats and where they come from – two things that have become very disconnected in Hong Kong’s fast-paced culture. On the roof of Hysan Place, participants will have the opportunity to grow their own vegetables with innovative technology, learn how to nurture microgreens in their own homes and join Caesar Jung-Harada from Makerbay, a group focused on sustainable and environmental innovations, as he builds his futuristic hydroponic planter. “We want to demonstrate how easy it is to find the tools to do this, because everyone can grow things, they just don’t know how,” says Jacqueline.
Having seen the small beginnings of their meals, the festival-goers will then be invited to EAT, learning from Grassroots Pantry founder Peggy Chan how to cook delicious plates of plants and even a side of mealworms as a first-hand taste of the future of protein. And, finally, they will DISPOSE of their trash, doing everything from turning lemon peels into disinfectant to practising zero waste with Hannah Chung of Green Common all in the name of providing endless antidotes to the biggest detriment to our environment: waste pollution.
After a hot day working on the farm, GreenFest then invites the rest of the city to join in for a Saturday night movie at their fourth floor sky garden, where they will screen the documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste for the first time in Hong Kong. “The film has celebrity chefs like Anthony Bourdain showing us how the F&B industry can use the entire carcass of an animal, rather than a few choice cuts. Once again, it is highlighting solutions rather than just really dark material.” And the deep, deep hope from organisers is that those solutions get taken home and practiced. “We don’t want it to end at Hysan Place, we want the kids to take it on board and bring it into their homes, peer groups, schools, careers and on and on,” says Jacqueline. Inspiring change from the roots up, it’s the sort of change this event may well start to see.