FARMFEST DATES 8 JANUARY 2021 TO 7 FEBRUARY 2021
WHAT IS FARMFEST?
Jointly organised by the FarmFest Organising Committee, the Vegetable Marketing Organization (VMO), and the Fish Marketing Organization (FMO), collectively, the “FarmFest Organisers”, FarmFest is the largest annual farmers’ market in Hong Kong aimed at promoting premium and quality local agricultural and fisheries products.
When over 90% of the food we eat in Hong Kong is imported, it becomes especially difficult to identify produce that is sourced responsibly. At Food Made Good we recognise our members’ effort to source produce from local farms which practise environmentally friendly farming measures. As such, we recognise FarmFest’s transparency in how they ensure that not only are the vegetables grown locally and seasonally, but also that these locally produced vegetable and fishery products meet food safety standards. So, we caught up with the FarmFest Organisers to learn more about FarmFest 2021 and how we could get involved.
WHAT ARE THE EVENT DETAILS?
Unlike in the past, this year’s event will be held completely online at the FarmFest 2021 website (http://www.farmfesthk.com) from 8 January 2021 to 7 February 2021. It is going to be a month full of online shopping for local fresh and healthy agricultural and fisheries products, free educational workshops and shows, and various fringe activities for people of all ages to enjoy. It will be using a platform whereby people may access different exhibition setups to learn about each vendor as they please and from the comfort of their own home.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND THIS VIRTUAL EVENT?
Anyone who is passionate about food and sustainability and looking to learn more about local agriculture and fisheries in Hong Kong. It’s also especially relevant for those who are looking to buy high quality and safe seafood and vegetables from local fish and vegetable farms.
WHAT SORT OF PROGRAMMES DOES FARMFEST HAVE IN STORE FOR 2021?
The FarmFest Organisers have created an online platform for FarmFest 2021, wherein visitors can purchase food, participate in cooking classes, and even visit exhibitions for agricultural and fisheries farms in Hong Kong. Visitors will also have access to various activities, health information, and cooking recipes. Visitors can take a virtual tour of the shopping area for local agricultural and fisheries products and gourmet food, check out the exhibition on agriculture and fisheries and also enjoy virtual performances.
WHAT EXHIBITORS WILL BE AT THE EVENT?
There will be around 30 agricultural and fisheries vendors selling their produce online every day. Agricultural products such as tomatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, Chinese white cabbage, lettuce, spinach, etc. sourced from local organic vegetable farms, accredited vegetable farms, hydroponic farms and cooperative societies will be available for purchase. Fisheries products such as perch, mullet, snapper, pompanos, lobster, oysters, etc. sourced from local capture-based fisheries, local marine fish farms, pond fish farms and oyster farms will be available for purchase.
In addition, gourmet food from local brands like 壽桃 (Sau Tao), 美味棧 (Yummy House) and 好廚房 (Good Kitchen) will be sold on the platform. Simple steps through the FarmFest 2021 platform on how to make on-line purchases will be provided.
AS A CUSTOMER, HOW I CAN ORDER FOOD AND HOW CAN THE FOOD BE DELIVERED TO ME?
Local fisheries and agricultural products will be sold online through the FarmFest 2021 platform and delivered to addresses provided by customers. After the order cut-off time (12:00 am everyday), FarmFest Organisers will notify the merchant to deliver the goods one to two days later, and customers will receive the goods. Click here for more details.
WHAT MAKES THIS PRODUCE STAND OUT FROM THOSE SOLD IN SUPERMARKETS?
As mentioned in this article, what distinguishes FMO and VMO accredited seafood and vegetables from regular produce is that the FMO supports local fisheries and provides a guarantee that the fish they sell is from clean waters that they test themselves. Similarly, the VMO works to provide the community with a reliable and plentiful supply of safe and quality vegetables while promoting the sustainable production of local agriculture.
WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS THAT THESE DIFFERENT VENDORS HAVE MET?
For local chilled or quick-frozen fishery product stalls, vendors belong to local fish farms or fish farming associations and have been certified by schemes such as the Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre’s ‘ORC -Cert Organic Seals’, and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s Accredited Fish Farm Scheme.
Additionally, some local fisheries products like the grey mullet and giant grouper have been categorised as “low risk” by the Seafood Risk Assessment and will be available for purchase on the FarmFest 2021 platform. Under the supervision of Dr Vengatesen Thiyagarajan of the Swire Institute of Marine Science of the University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Oyster Company Limited has adopted internal quality assurance and quality control procedures for the production of Hong Kong oysters, whereby locally harvested oysters are depurated in ultraviolet-sterilised seawater for a few days to reduce bacterial and heavy metal contamination and ensure that the oysters are fit for consumption. Oysters passing such quality assurance and quality control procedures will be sold on the FarmFest 2021 platform.
For other fishery products, these are either sold by local fishermen or fishermen’s associations. In all cases, fishery products are either locally farmed or caught or processed by local fishing vessels with proof of submission.
For local vegetables, the vendors belong to local farms or farming associations. Most of the farms have joined the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department’s local farming schemes such as Accredited Farm Scheme and Organic Farming Support Service.
For vendors in the organic category, the farmers market locally grown organic vegetables and have been certified by Hong Kong Organic Resource Centre or equivalents.
HOW HAS FARMFEST EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?
Since its inception in early 2007, FarmFest has attracted some 150-200 thousand citizens every year, with customers being able to purchase high-quality locally produced fishery and agricultural products such as fresh fruits, vegetables, chilled fish, fish products, organic products and flowers from over 200 stalls. Additionally, customers have been able to purchase local specialties, cooking supplies, nostalgic snacks, and New Year food from over 150 stalls. Over time, FarmFest was perceived as a means to appreciate the efforts and achievements of the local fishery and agriculture circles and the Fish and Vegetable Marketing Organizations have been co-organisers of FarmFest over the years.
Last year, over 300 booths displayed fresh and high-quality local agricultural products, fishery products, flowers/potted plants, organic and specialty foods. There was also a wide variety of events such as cooking demonstrations and dancing and singing performances that were well received by attendees.
Now in its 15th year, participants can be expected to consist not only of local fishermen and farmers, but also community members from all walks of life. The organisers also hope to enhance the geographical position of local agricultural and fishery products through activities, encourage citizens to choose more local agricultural and fishery products, and at the same time, revitalise the development of local agriculture and fisheries.
WHAT CAN BE FOUND ON THE FARMFEST 2021 PLATFORM?
There are two main exhibition areas in the website, namely the Fisheries Exhibition area and Agriculture Exhibition area. In the Fisheries Exhibition area, information on the latest fisheries technology, local fisheries products and an introduction to leisure fisheries in Hong Kong is displayed. In the Agriculture Exhibition area, local agriculture farms and their products can be visited and browsed virtually.
Other key areas include the Shopping area for local fisheries and agricultural products, where displayed fresh produce can be purchased, as well as the Gourmet shopping area, where featured products and packages can be purchased. If you want to experience performances or classes, you may check out the Stage Programme area and access cooking information provided by Town Gas.
STAY TUNED FOR FARMFEST 2021
If you are hoping to better connect with the local agricultural and fisheries sector and foster a deeper understanding of where our food comes from, then look no further than FarmFest! While enjoying the food we eat is one thing, being able to appreciate where it comes from and how it gets to our plates is just as important. Right before the Lunar New year kicks in this year, make sure you get involved in this virtual event to learn more about how we can continue to build and support a sustainable food system in Hong Kong.