桔仔農夫

CLEMENTINE FARMER


​Sing (成 - “accomplish”)

Tai Po (大埔)

08:00 - 17:00

“I’ve been a farmer for over 40 years. My family has been farming on this plot of land since I was a kid, so I have been helping out on a farm from a very young age. Back then we also planted all sorts of vegetables, orchids and chrysanthemums. It was hard work, but I really enjoyed the satisfaction of growing and eating our own produce. We now only specialise in clementine plants, which take 3 whole years to grow. I look after each and every plant with care every day; I prune them, fertilise them and make sure that they get enough water and sun. When people think of clementine trees they always think of the Lunar New Year. It’s a festive and symbolic plant because the Chinese word for clementine (桔) sounds the same as the word for luck (吉), so you can say that we are growing good luck here!


「我做咗農夫超過 40年了。我細個嗰陣,屋企已經開始喺度耕田,所以我好早已經落田幫手。舊時我哋仲會種好多菜、蘭花同埋菊花。種嘢係好辛苦嘅工作,但有收成,食得返自己啲農作物嘅時候就真係好有滿足感。我哋而家淨係種桔,一棵桔要種三年先可以攞出去賣。我每日都會悉心照料佢哋每一棵,剪枝呀,灌溉施肥,確保佢哋有足夠水份同埋陽光。大家諗起桔樹就會諗起農曆新年,覺得佢好意頭,因為桔同吉係同音嘛,所以你都可以話我哋係種緊啲好運出嚟㗎﹗


“We grow two kinds of clementines. One variety is called ‘Four Seasons’ (四季桔) which is smaller and flatter, and the other is ‘Dragon’s Bile’ (龍膽桔) which is rounder and plumper. Both of these fruits are sour and not very pleasant to eat, so the plants are mainly used for decorative purposes. You can preserve the ‘Four Seasons’ clementines and use those to make tea, like the salted kumquat tea. Our sales are concentrated in the one month before Chinese New Year, so you can imagine that we are taking a big hit this year given the limited festive events. Ironically, I remember the busiest year that we’ve ever had was the year of the bird flu outbreak in 1997. Fewer people were travelling abroad for Chinese New Year and stayed in Hong Kong to celebrate, so our plant sales soared. It’s very different this time with the pandemic - people are not in the mood to spend as much. In the busy stints when we had to rush big orders, we would work 15 hour days. As farmers we are constantly exposed to the sun, rain and even typhoons - these little plants are hard work!”


“I look after the farm with my wife. We met 60 years ago; we both grew up and were neighbours in this same village in Tai Po. We have two sons and two daughters, but none of them work on the farm - it’s simply too labour intensive. There is also a lot of competition from Shenzen and business is tough; although we still have some very loyal customers who have been buying our clementine plants every year for the past 30 years. I always enjoy chit-chatting with them when they come to visit the farm. Our plot of farmland used to be much bigger than this, but we have decided to downsize gradually in recent years. I am already in my 70s, so it’s time to slowly wind down the farm. I am not thinking or worrying about too much these days, just taking life one day at a time!”

 

 「我哋呢度種緊兩隻桔,一種叫四季桔,係細啲扁啲嘅,另一種就叫龍膽桔,圓啲彈手啲。兩種食落都係酸㗎喇,好少就咁食,主要係用嚟做擺設。你可以攞啲四季桔去醃鹹佢沖水飲,好似嗰啲鹹柑桔呢。我哋啲生意主要集中係農曆新年前一個月,所以你可以諗到今年少咗咁多年宵花市,對我哋都好大影響。不過呢,我記得我哋生意最好嗰年反而係1997年,爆禽流感嗰年,啲人少咗出國,多咗留喺香港過年,所以買多咗年花。今次疫情唔同啦,大家冇心情駛咁多錢。趕住出貨嗰時,我哋忙起上嚟一日要做15個鐘。做農夫要日曬雨淋,打風都照做,所以咪睇呢啲桔仔細細棵,種落其實要花好多心機㗎﹗」


 「我太太同我一齊打理個農場。我哋 60年前已經識大家,自細就喺大埔呢度住同一條村,一齊大。我哋有兩個囝兩個囡,不過佢哋冇一個做農夫啦,太重體力勞動喇。加上深圳嗰邊咁多競爭,生意都好難做。雖然我哋都有啲客人好長情,年年都同我哋買桔,有啲買咗30年。佢哋嚟親呢度,我都鍾意同佢哋傾下計。我哋以前塊田大過而家好多,不過最近幾年我哋決定要縮細嚟做,我都70幾歲囉,係時候慢慢退落嚟。我而家冇咩諗冇咩擔心㗎喇,過好每一日就已經好好﹗」

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