Through the DB Kids Farming Programme, launched in May by [email protected], local school children, alongside their parents and siblings, are given a small piece of farmland to cultivate. The farmlands are located inside the greenhouse of DB Community Green Square, near Haven Court, with members of the DB Landscape Team on hand to teach the kids valuable farming skills.
A community-caring platform initiated by Hong Kong Resort Company Limited (HKRCL) in 2012, [email protected] is well known for its ability to bring
the community together through a wide range of fun and informative activities. Promoting green living in DB is a priority. No surprise then that the DB Kids Farming Programme has a multi-faceted agenda aiming to teach children about farming and foster environmental awareness; bring families together and promote positive parenting; provide children with an enriching extracurricular experience; and benefit the wider community.
To date, two schools and three NGOs have been invited to join the DB Kids Farming Programme. Namely, S.K.H. Wei Lun Primary School, Discovery College, Discovery Bay Alliance Church Community Centre, the Hong Kong Outlying Islands Women’s Association (OIWA) and The Neighbourhood Advice-Action Council (NAAC). The initiative is ongoing and more schools and NGOs are expected to enrol in 2023.
The DB Kids Farming Programme is designed to be flexible, with content tailor-made to match the academic enrichment curriculum or focus of individual schools and NGOs. For instance, in contributing to the programme, OIWA engaged with pre-kindergarten age kids, encouraging them to treasure the planet’s natural resources. Discovery College is placing the emphasis on sustainable living and community service in DB. And for S.K.H. Wei Lun Primary School, earlier in the year, the focus was on positive parenting – encouraging young parents to spend quality time with their children outdoors in order to boost family ties.
CULTIVATING ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS
“We created this platform so that residents could experience the unique green lifestyle in DB and to educate local kids about the need for sustainability in daily life,” opens Dino Mak, DB Landscape Manager. “We aim to encourage the kids and residents involved to become ‘green ambassadors’ of our community.”
Working out of the newly built greenhouse at DB Community Green Square, children learn how to plant seedlings, nur ture growing plants and harvest their crops. In sharing their exper tise, the DB Landscape Team makes it a priority that the children have fun. We protect what we love, so the idea is that if children learn to love being in nature, they will decide they want to protect it. “The students are so excited to be par t of the DB Kids
Farming Programme,” says Ellie Fong, NAAC socialworker at Discovery College. “It is a fun programme that enriches their knowledge of farming, allows them to put effort into physically taking care of their plants and teaches them, quite literally, that you reap what you sow.”
From an environmental perspective, children participating in the DB Kids Farming Programme are taught about sustainable practices surrounding agriculture and food. “This new learning environment give kids real-world context of why environmental awareness matters; it helps them understand what is happening in the community around them and why the environment needs protection,” says Dino.
This view is echoed by Luvis Wong, Community Services Development Manager at OIWA, who has been closely involved with the programme since its conception. “We want to educate children at an early age about the concept of environmental protection,” he says. “The DB Kids Farming Programme provides an effective platform. We evangelise the message of treasuring food and other natural resources provided by our loving planet.”
BRINGING FAMILIES TOGETHER
Moving beyond the programme’s environmental roots, one of its primary aims is to bring families together through enjoyable shared experiences. Working together outdoors with a common goal allows families to enjoy quality time together and fosters mutual respect.
The way the programme promotes positive parenting is key for Andrew Yam, Centre-in-Charge of Discovery Bay Alliance Church Community Centre. “The DB Kids Farming Programme fosters personal growth through optimism, happiness and caring relationships,” he says. “This can help young parents to positively embrace day-to-day stresses and challenges in the parenting process. It can help them lead joyous and fulfilling lives centred on their family’s wellbeing.”
Though parent-child focused, the DB Kids Farming Programme also invites whole-family involvement which means that in addition to spending quality time with mum and dad, children can have fun with other family members, whether that is planting seeds with their grandparents or showing their siblings skills they have learned. By extension, participating families get to connect with other families. As they help each other farm their plots and celebrate together at harvest time, they have the opportunity to build close relationships.
Mabel Lam, Principal of S.K.H. Wei Lun Primary School, finds this central to the programme’s success, and it’s something she has furthered online by creating an exchange platform, ‘Farming Diary’. “Through the ‘Farming Diary,’ [email protected], the co-organisers and participants can share their farming tips and experiences,” she says. “They can express how they felt and what inspired them during the process.”
ENRICHING KIDS’ LIVES
As an academic enrichment programme par excellence, the DB Kids Farming Programme sets out to provide children with something fun and constructive to do outside the classroom. More than that, it aims to give par ticipants confidence, autonomy, stability, motivation and optimism – in short, a positive mindset.
“The young farmers are encouraged to face difficult situations in a positive way,” Dino explains. “If their plants do not grow as well as expected due to factors outside of their control – typhoon, heatwave, or insufficient knowledge of farming – they find out how to tackle the problem and overcome negative thinking.”
For Mabel, this is one of the things that makes the programme so meaningful. “The DB Kids Farming Programme encourages children to develop their emotions in a positive way and to acquire a positive attitude towards life challenges,” she says. “At S.K.H. Wei Lun Primary School, we believe that a sense of positivity and happiness can fortify inner potential and personal strengths, and we prioritise whole-person development of students. The objectives of the DB Kids Farming Programme are totally in line with that. “We and [email protected] organised a celebratory, in-person Graduation Day when our school’s time on the programme ended,” Mabel adds. “Participating parents and students were invited to exchange views and share the benefits of the programme and, in recognition of their efforts, there were awards for best harvest, best sharing and best parent child collaboration.
BENEFITING THE WIDER COMMUNITY
[email protected] hopes children’s participation in the programme will encourage them to live in a greener way, get involved in other communitywide green initiatives and encourage friends and neighbours to adopt the same habits. “The earlier kids learn about protecting the environment, the sooner they’ll be able to contribute to the community and beyond,” a [email protected] spokesperson explains.
As green ambassadors, children are encouraged to share their crops not only with family and friends, but with others residents, importantly the elderly in DB. “We’ve added a community service element to the programme to help bring harmony to our living place and create a strong sense of belonging among residents,” the spokesperson adds. This is an aspect of the programme that particularly appeals to Ellie when working with students from Discovery College. “Because of the DB Kids Farming Programme, children have the chance to participate in the community by doing voluntary service,” she says. “Students send out the produce they’ve grown to show they care. This strengthens DB’s community care network and plays a part in creating the loving, caring place in which we live. A big thank you goes to [email protected]!”