Common Farms founder Jessica Naomi Fong was named one of 50 young global changemakers by the World's 50 Best Restaurants this year. The only Hongkonger to receive this honor, she tells Tatler about her mission to transform her home city's food system since 2017.
"In Hong Kong, we import the majority of the food we consume. There is mistrust around quality because we don't know where it's coming from. Seeing the waste that comes with the import process and the high prices we are paying for food was eye-opening. I fell into a rabbit hole researching the food system and ended up with more questions than answers. I would see my grandparents eat processed food because they didn't have the knowledge or access to fresh, healthy produce. I realized quality food must be made accessible to more people."
"I didn't even know what vertical farming was when I started. I just wanted more people to have access to quality food. The starting point was just growing something myself. The first thing I grew was a tomato at home. When you grow something and it looks good, it makes you want to grow more. I was originally going to start growing in mainland China because there's more space and it's cheaper, but I wanted to service Hong Kong because this is my city, and it's where I saw problems in terms of food cost and waste. I didn't know how to build a farm, what I needed, who I needed to hire, or who to talk to. It was just-in-time learning."
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