Institute of Agricultural and Forestry Economics Department of Economic and Social Sciences BOKU - Univ. of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Austria
My research interest in farmers’ identities and rural community revitalization began four years ago since I engaged in several farming communities in Hong Kong and started growing rice. I am interested in using qualitative research methods, in particular ethnographic engagement, to understand how farmers construct their farming selves and what shapes their farming mindsets and ideologies.
I grew up in Hong Kong and spent most of my past 25 years in this highly urbanized city. I learnt that there are still people growing food to make a living in the city when I was in high school. My interest in agricultural issues began with romantic imaginations towards farming. In 2013, I started helping out on a commercial vegetable farm and learning how to grow to make a living. In the same year, I set up Mind Farm with three partners and started growing rice in Hong Kong for four years. After receiving my Bachelor degree in Social Sciences from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) in 2014, the first-hand engagement in farming communities in Hong Kong inspired me to start a Master of philosophy (MPhil) in sociology in HKU. With the hope to understand local agricultural issues and the farming trend in Hong Kong through a sociological approach, I conducted an ethnographic study in Lai Chi Wo, an indigenous village in the New Territories of Hong Kong, for 13 months to explore the trend of urban dwellers engaging in small-scale farming in Hong Kong. In 2017, I completed the MPhil studies in HKU and began working as a part-time research assistant in HKU and continued with rice farming before I left Hong Kong for RECOMS.
Alternative farmers are exploring new practices based on different relations, beliefs and world-views than those favored by the agricultural mainstream. This ‘alternativeness’ brings with it a range of challenges linked to inclusion and exclusion in rural communities. The alternative practices of alternative farmers can question the mainstream mechanized farming practices and the associated loss of ecological knowledge. Therefore, alternative farmers have the potential to bring new ideas and changes to rural spaces. This research project adopts a case study approach to examines whether and how could art inspire alternative farmers to think out of the box, trigger innovations, and identify new opportunities so that farmers are more capable to navigate uncertainties and adapt to changes. The first case study will be undertaken at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale (ETAT) in Japan. A theoretical framework using a relational approach is used to investigate the types of relations on- and off-farm that are created or facilitated by art.