Make A Date With Nature At HK Perma Club

5 Mins Read
Humans have been working for thousands of years to enhance our natural surroundings and engineer the world around us, especially when it comes to agriculture and food production. In more recent years, a few wise folks have realized that instead of trying to fight nature, much could be gained from designs and philosophies that work with nature, rather than against nature. Such is the premise of permaculture, a farming concept centered on sustainability and the self-reliance of the existing ecosystem, allowing Mother Nature to do much of the heavy lifting to efficiently grow plants without the use of the excessively complex tools of modern day farming. 
 
Red Tree Flower
 
Located in jungly cul-de-sac above a pristine beach in Sai Kung’s Clearwater Bay neighbourhood, HK Perma Club is more than just a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon. Though it a heavenly escape! For a few hours you can surround yourself with rolling hills, flowers and trees, not to mention birdsong and cricket chirps. If you close your eyes for too long, you might just forget where you are. The club’s raison d’etre though, is to educate the visiting public about the permaculture philosophy. 
 
After enjoying a freshly made cup of hand ground coffee during which time you learn about the club’s history and how it was founded, you are whisked on a grand tour of the grounds. An astounding amount of planning has gone into the landscape, even though most of us would think of it as more of a wild garden than a structured farm. Permaculture developed from the desire to make agriculture more sustainable and the understanding that nature has already evolved the most efficient ways to help plants grow optimally. HK Perma Club’s mantra is that they are soil farmers, not plant farmers- if you focus on native species and quality soil, everything else simply falls into place.
 
 
Natural forests tend to have a wide variety of plants (hence permaculture versus monoculture or the cultivation of one plant only) and the club’s garden proffer a large selection of fruits and vegetables. Cassava, amaranth, Scotch Bonnet chili peppers, Indian jwala, sugar cane, pineapple, pomegranates, okra, aloe vera, zucchini (including the flowers!), the list goes on and on. The diversity of plants is deliberate, with each and every species fulfilling its role in the garden’s ecosystem, helping to support the bees, bugs, and microbes that in turn help to support the plants right back. It’s all very symbiotic. We were surprised to discover that unlike many other geographies around the world, the Hong Kong climate means you get 365 growing days a year! The club’s team make sure to select plants that thrive in the local climate and they also vary the species depending on their suitability to the seasons though they also boast plants such as a special Malaysian type of spinach that can grow year round. 
 
Squash Flower
 
One of the delights of having a garden is to be able to partake in the bounty of your labor- HK Perma Club offers visitors a gorgeous vegan lunch as part of the tour made exclusively with fruits, vegetables and leaves from their grounds, most of which were harvested that very morning. Our feast, which we devoured, included a salad of fresh cucumbers, zucchini, spinach, and amaranth, as well as a squash and carrot stew. Our cook for the day was a lovely young lady wwoofer, part of WWOOF or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a worldwide exchange program of volunteers who work on farms around the world in exchange for food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic living. How neat is that?
 
Salads
 
One of the reasons modern day farming can be so costly is the high cost of  chemical fertilizers and pesticides. At HK Perma Club, the team takes advantage of nature’s own in-built mechanism for protecting crops like using banana spiders for pest control and compost and mulch as fertilizer. They have a large compost container where food waste, including scraps and kitchen waste from eco-minded restaurants around town like MANA! Slow Fast Food , are converted into plant food. As in nature, everything has its place and purpose. The wetlands serve as a filter for the rainwater. The mulch acts as sunscreen for the soil, helping to keep moisture sealed in, aswell as preventing the earth from becoming too hard and baked. 
 
compost
 
HK Perma Club believes that the concept of permaculture should extend beyond the garden. Their commitment to sustainability extends to their on-site oven, made by volunteers out of recycled clay and bricks. The walls that reinforce the various sections of their space are made from bags of natural sand covered with homemade plaster.
 
clay oven
 
Even their toilet is DIY! They proudly explained it was Hong Kong’s first and only fully composting toilet. They use left over coconut husks from the island of Hainan as carbon to neutralize the nitrogen waste and they have created a solar powered ventilation system that uses only black and white tubes and a single bottle set in the wall which acts as a natural bug trap. 
 
After a full day for gardening, feasting on freshly made vegan dishes, and being surrounded by the sweet scent of flowers, one cannot help but be reminded of the importance of escaping the urban buzz and the therapeutic powers of nature immersion. So, the next time you need a break from city life,  spend an afternoon learning more about what it means to be truly sustainable with the incredibly knowledgeable HK Perma Club team. Perfect for grownups and kiddos alike.
 
 
HK Perma Club offers educational tours every Saturday from 11am to 2pm. Email them at permaclub@gmail.com for bookings and to get more details. 

 

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