Choose Life! Harvest Festival-Collecting Stories of Life from the Fields

Kaitak, Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University, will be organizing the “Choose Life! Harvest Festival” at Sangwoodgoon located at Kam Tin, Yuen Long on 22 March. The Harvest Festival is one of the annual events under the “Through Our Eyes” Photography Education Programme, with cultivation and photography as the core learning subjects, participating students are guided to explore the possibilities in life and living. Various activities will be held throughout the one-day festival to share with the public our fruitful learning results, including “Farmer’s Dining Table” – to celebrate the freedom of choice in food and eating, food cooked from plants harvested from this piece of land will be shared at one big dining table; at “Plant-rubbing Print Make Workshop”, we will learn to observe and to appreciate the natural beauty of plants; at “Stories of the Farming Village”, students will be sharing stories collected from the neighbours of Sangwoodgoon. “Sunday Farm Market” will be the ideal place for recognizing and buying local and organic plants. Also guided tours will be available at different time-slots to guide visitors around the area on planting and maintaining farm lands.

Photography & Cultivation
This is the second year of “Through Our Eyes” Photography Education Programme to collaborate with Sangwoodgoon in organizing this 5-months Photography & Cultivation Workshop. This year we are having more than 10 students enrolled to this workshop who came to Sangwoodgoon for lessons every Sunday starting from November last year. Through the process of planting, weeding, fertilizing, they learn from the nature and reflect on modern food production issues. Observation practice at the fields allows students to stretch their senses and broaden their imaginations through physical labouring. Inspired by the film “Trainspotting”, we themed the Harvest Festival “Choose Life!” hoping to bring out more reflective thoughts of our lives:

“Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a big carrot. Choose broccoli. Choose potatoes. Choose a ginger. Choose good health, low cholesterol……

Are there still farm villages in Hong Kong? What kinds of people live there? Who can live there? What kind of ‘investments’ are needed to live such a live? Can I make a choice too? What can I choose from? What are the stories there? What about the place I live, the food I eat…are there any stories behind too?”

Students are inspired in various ways. Phoebe traces the tracks of beetles on the leaves of Asparagus Pea, from there she discovered a whole new world through the tiny teeny holes; Man Hin was amazed by the rapid changing status of ponds while she was learning photography: “Sometimes pond will cover itself up entirely with a muddy layer from preventing the invading visions; sometimes it is so clear like it is exhibiting the whole universe to the world, welcoming people to unveil the mysteries lying underneath.” Photography exhibition will be held on the day of festival.

Activities Preview – “Stories of the Farming Village”
Sangwoodgoon has been rooted in the Tse Uk Tsuen Community for 5 years. They have established their own style in agricultural productions which creates a unique Rural Economy through their interactions with the indigenous residents. What are the impacts done to the traditional farmers from the area when Sangwoodgoon started to sell their agricultural products? Instead of selling the land at a profitable price to property developers, why would the landlord keep leasing the land to Sangwoodgoon? Lives here are beyond our imaginations, two foreign kids will simply walk into Sangwoodgood barefooted just to buy the rye juice they want; goats and sheeps running around during sunset with the shephard wandering slowly behind them….

From Cultivation to Photography, from Farmland to Community, they are all closely connected to each other: ponds and farmlands are dependent on each other; the underlying relations of rural lives are made visible through interviewing the neighbourhood. Here are some previews on the collected stories by the students which will be presented at the festival:

Uncle Tsuen:as a professional farmer for more than 30 years, Uncle Tsuen, in his sixties now, still goes to bed with the lamb , and rises with the lark. He will wake up at 2am to harvest, delivered the products to Vegetable Depot at 5am, has tea and dimsum at Yeun Long at 8am, then starts to work again at 11am. Uncle Tsuen still keeps the same living style even though he has much more income with the newly established farm ranches around the area. When talking about the tips in cultivation, Uncle Tsuen just giggled and said “I have not much experience to share; we all leave our fates to the nature!” And the reason why he keeps working as a farmer? “It’s so free!” Uncle Tsuen answered without a second thought.

Bro Sam:Bro Sam has reclaimed a small piece of land next to Sangwoodgoon. He has kept 7 goats to help ‘clean up’ the weed nearby at the beginning, the population keeps growing and now he is having more than 20 pet goats. Bro Sam has reserved a small area to grow veggies, with some rabbits and 3 fish ponds; here is the real wonderland of life. One of his goats has given birth to two babies just few days ago: “They were born on the 4th, I hurried back home from work right after I heard the news.” He then continued with joy: “I forgot to lock the gate yesterday and they have almost eaten up all the broccolis, hahahaha!”

James:James is one of the youngest farmers at Sangwoodgoon who used to teach English at Secondary School. James met Tsang Tak Ping, one of the founding farmers of Sangwoodgoon when he was volunteering at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in 2010 and has started his farming life here since then. He now works mainly as a farmer and will occasionally take up part-time teaching and translation job. James finds it rewarding to work with the nature.

Through the dialogues students have revitalized the interrelations in lives.
Carol, one of the students said: “We keep losing tracks of something important while living an urban life. Things are violently broken into pieces while they are meant to be linked together. We just forgot how things should be.”
Through different ways of presentation, students will share the stories with the visitors which will lead to a meaningful discussion on choices in life.
Choose Life! Harvest Festival
Date:22 March, 2015 (Sunday)
Time:11am – 6pm
Venue:Sangwoodgoon, Tse Uk Tsuen, Kam Sheung Road, Yuen Long

How to get there:
1) Interchange to Bus 64 K (to Taipo Direction) at Kam Sheung Road West Railway Station (Exit C), take off at To Uk Tsuen stop
2) Interchange to Bus 64 K (to Yuen Long Direction) at Tai Wo East Railway Station, take off at Tse Uk Tsuen stop

Guided Tour and Sharing Session for Media is available on reservation basis, details as follow:

Guided Tour and Sharing Session for Media
Date:15 March, 2015 (Sunday)
Time:1pm – 3pm
Venue:Sangwoodgoon, Tse Uk Tsuen, Kam Sheung Road, Yuen Long
(with the presence of our Artist Educators Chow Sze Chung, Jenny Li and the students of the programme)
*Please kindly respond by 12pm, 5 March for further arrangements.

Facebook Page:「Choose Life!」收成節 | Harvest Festival (Chinese)

For Media Enquiries, please contact:
Ms. Sandy Wan— Project Assistant, kaitak – Centre for Research and Development of Visual Arts
Tel:3411 8210 / 5111 6203 | Email:sandywan@hkbu.edu.hk

Ms. Stella Tsoi— Project Officer, kaitak – Centre for Research and Development of Visual Arts
Tel: 3411 8219 | Email:stellatsoi@hkbu.edu.hk

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About kaitak, Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts
kaitak, Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts was established by the Academy of Visual Arts in 2013 to enhance the visual arts development in Hong Kong and neighbouring regions. Housed in a Grade I historic building (the former Royal Air Force Officers’ Mess), it promotes visual arts research, creative arts education and community engagement through a vibrant programme of artist-in-residence, exhibitions, workshops, talks and publications. http://ava.hkbu.edu.hk/

About ‘Through Our Eyes’ Photography Education Programme
Through Our Eyes (TOE) is a non-profit photography education programme, aiming to open up new perspectives for the youth. It provides them with a way of seeing the world, and at the same time reflecting their own experiences. By introducing different photographic techniques, it also helps them develop creative ideas and articulate social and cultural issues using imagery.
Founded by The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation in 2005, the TOE has gradually become the most extensive school-based photography education programme in Hong Kong. In 2013, in continued efforts to promote and support local arts education, the Foundation transferred the TOE to kaitak, Centre for Research and Development in Visual Arts, Academy of Visual Arts, Hong Kong Baptist University. http://www.toe.org.hk/

About Sangwoodgoon
Sangwoodgoon was founded in the Anti-XRL and Choi Yuen Village Movement. It is now a place for growing fresh vegetables as well as new forms of community, with the belief that organic farming is critical to social movements and overthrowing mediocre government. http://sangwoodgoon.wordpress.com/

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