It seemed like the planting day would never come – with nearly continuous heavy rain for several weeks – but finally on 28 May, a group of students, professors and staff joined hands to plant the first HKUST Orchard in the LG7 lawn. The group rolled up their sleeves to transplant 14 seedlings with hopes of creating a healthy and vibrant garden that the campus community can enjoy for years to come.
This project started from a capstone project September last year. A group of students from the EVMT program worked with the Sustainability Unit, the Facilities Management Office, Life Science Faculty, and Kadoorie Farm & Botanic Garden to identify opportunities, spaces and preferences from the community on building an orchard on campus. Knowing that an orchard can play an important role in the community for providing fresh fruit harvests, resting and relaxing, social and learning for garden lovers, the students learned about horticulture and importance of sustainable management throughout the project.
From their survey, it showed that 80% of staff and students supported the orchard idea. Students tended to believe that an orchard would let them get closer with nature and beautify the campus, while staff valued it as an area to relax and provide educational opportunities. After considering the fruit sizes, weather, space requirements, and other project objectives, five species of fruit trees were selected: Papaya, Kumquat, Lemon, Guava and Pineapple.
Student group member Jenny Yuh shared that "As horticulture is a whole new concept to me, I enjoy the learning throughout the project, especially talking to professionals in the area and visiting Kadoorie Farm to learn about permaculture." Her time management skills and communications skills were polished from the project and she believes that the orchard will create an excellent platform for the campus community not only to enjoy fruits, but gain a sense of ownership in greening our campus.
Transplanting the fruit trees seedlings next to the Organic Farm is just the beginning. The student group has started a new Gardening Club and plans to work with the Sustainability Unit to recruit passionate staff and students to join the group in taking care of the orchard for watering, pruning, fertilizing and harvesting. A survey conducted at the Urban Gardening Workshop during Environment Week showed that 90% of the participants were interested in gardening and organizing events in the club.
If you love gardening and want to be part of the team, check out the group page on facebook "HKUST Gardening Club" and stay tuned for future announcement. Don't wait to start your hands-on work with freshness of soil and fruit. A sustainable campus can only be created with your support!