Farmers' market in Quarry Bay
The Hong Kong Markets Organisation is launching its own family-day-style farmers' market in Quarry Bay this Sunday. Island East Markets will offer organic food, prepared food, juices and artisanal products. With a focus on fun and education, the market will encourage a direct relationship between producers and consumers in a traditional marketplace environment.
"Interaction is essential," explains Vincent Poon, the organisation's co-founder. "No one has as much conviction as those who put their efforts into growing produce."
Like many people around the world, Hongkongers are growing more concerned about where their food comes from. Recent food safety scares and fears about the dangers of using pesticides have made organic and locally grown food more attractive.
"Environmentally and socially responsible dining is definitely gaining traction," Poon adds, especially among expats.
Peggy Chan - owner of Grassroots Pantry, an organic restaurant that has a stall at the market - says: "Genetically modified food has proven itself a faulty system in agriculture. We are entering a reflective, conscious age where people will begin to ask questions."
There are about 450 organic farms in Hong Kong, according to government statistics - a number that surprised Poon. "Generally, people think their food comes from China or elsewhere, but there's a lot of farmland here."
Gaining organic certification isn't easy. "Hong Kong takes its lead from all the international certification boards. It's fairly expensive and arduous," Poon says.
But once achieved, the accreditation is internationally recognised, and both government and independent bodies provide subsidies for those who earn it. Locally grown raw food and cooked food companies will also have a presence at the market, including Tai Tai Pie Pies, Naked Table (Yardbird's catering wing), Grassroots Pantry and Chaiwanese. Not all of the stalls will have organic food.
The arts and crafts on offer will include pieces by local designers and Ambassadors of Design. Handcrafted accessories from La Belle Epoque, Dewdrops, VicPLAYground, My Little Thing and Antique J will also be on sale, as will organic skincare products from companies such as Sense of Pure, Y Organic and Bathe to Basics.
"We're encouraging a slower, more thoughtful way of living, and supporting small and creative businesses," says Poon.
An added highlight for the market is the opportunity to relax outside Island East on Tong Chong Street. Lounging areas will be created, and there will be displays by top chefs and discussions about environmental issues. Children, can enjoy face painting, arts and crafts, and musical performances.
The farmers' market will run from 10am to 5pm for four consecutive Sundays, but could become a fixture if the public response is good, says Poon.