From Hong Kong to harvest: Yu-Wing Wong cultivates community in the UK

When Yu-Wing migrated to the UK, he brought with him a love for agriculture, which he has shared with a budding community. That community has since sprouted around him, and become a place where people can learn, share and make connections.

Yu-Wing Wong had spent 12 years as an organic farmer and once in the UK, started a community interest company (CIC) called AuLaw Fam UK. One of the aims of the CIC was to teach people how to grow Asian vegetables in the UK.

There are a lot of challenges when it comes to growing these crops, Yu-Wing said, “In Hong Kong the weather is totally different to the UK, so we have had to find new methods about how to grow Asian vegetables.”

Yu-Wing Wong harvesting garlic from his allotment in New Malden Credit: Phillip Barr

Yu-Wing’s farm is on an allotment in New Malden, where he holds training sessions helping people learn how to grow crops in their own homes. He believes that people can grow crops anywhere, even in places without much land.

“In London, you can grow your food in allotments, back gardens, or even your flat. You can grow your food in small pots indoors. We are trying to help people grow food by connecting them to others,” he said.

Along with his training sessions Yu-Wing has been running a community farming project with volunteers in New Malden’s Jubilee Square. On Saturdays they meet up and tend to crops, most of the volunteers are also from Hong Kong.

This project has allowed new UK residents to meet people and learn more about their community.

Yu-Wing teaching volunteers about agriculture in Jubilee Square, New Malden. Credit: Phillip Barr

One of the volunteers, Edwin Yung described his experience with the project: “It’s fun, spending time with new people. I enjoy harvesting and eating what we grow it is a very special experience.”

Besides tending crops volunteers have also been able to enjoy the fruits of their labour.

Yung said: “For the volunteers, we have an event called farm to table. Basically we harvest the vegetables and then we share with other volunteers, we cook and eat together.”

Edwin was one of more than 150,000 Hongkongers who have moved to the UK since the creation of the Hong Kong BN(O) visa. This visa was created in response to the passing of a new national security law for Hong Kong, which the UK considers violates agreements made between the UK and China at the time of the Hong Kong handover.

He along with others have found community in this project.

Edwin Yung one of the many volunteers in New Malden. Credit: Phillip Barr

“Many families decided to move to the UK, and we are one of them. We came here and we are trying to contribute to the community.

“Not only financially but also trying to build a workforce and share our experience. Hopefully we can integrate with the local people, we are here and hopefully we can do good here,” he said.

Having moved across the world Yu-Wing Wong has managed to create a community based around farming and togetherness. For some gardening is a singular activity, but not for Yu-Wing.

“I would like to invite more people to grow your own food together,” he said.

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