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Shared memories and old ties help Choi Yuen villagers find ways to build their new home
by Kris Lee And Caleb Ho

Many people in Hong Kong dream of a good salary and a comfortable flat in the city. These are among the goals that drive them as they commute to work every morning.

No doubt, the residents of Tin Shui Wai in the northern New Territories share similar ambitions as they rush to offices in Kowloon and Hong Kong. Not so Fancy Fung Yu-chuk who farms 30,000 square feet of land in Pat Heung, Yuen Long and follows the time-honoured cycle: plough, sow, water, weed, feed and harvest. Then she delivers the produce to customers by bike.

Fung was born and grew up in Choi Yuen Village, which was demolished in May last year to make way for the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. Some 500 people in 150 households were forced to move despite staunch protests.

Some of them decided to build a new Choi Yuen Village and since May last year, they have been creating an organic farm on rented land near the site of the new village. The farm, which they have named Pioneer Field, is jointly owned by some of these villagers and a few non-villagers.

Fung’s home may be gone, but her attachment to the old village, to the land and to the people, has not diminished.

“Shek Kong Airfield and Shek Kong Military Field used to be our playground. We let our cattle out to pasture there and ran around with bare feet. This is what differentiates us from children who grew up in the city, they never had these experiences,” Fung says.

Although she has moved to Tin Shui Wai, she still comes to the new village to farm and to see her old friends and neighbours. “My homeland has been demolished now, where else could I go?”