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Pol Fàbrega has worked in the non-profit field for many years, across a range of issues. Pol came to Hong Kong in 2012, and in 2015 co-founded Rooftop Republic, a social enterprise that promotes sustainable living through building and managing urban farms in Hong Kong and the Greater Bay Area. As part of our Day in the Life series, The Style Sheet spent a day with the urban farmer.

Pol Fàbrega at the urban farm created by Rooftop Republic for Swire Properties’ sustainable development exhibition centre at The Loop, Taikoo Place


‘I wake up around eight, have an espresso and some fruit, and head to Dream Impact, the co-working space our Rooftop Republic team uses. We have around ten full-time employees, along with ten to fifteen farmers that work with.

A typical morning might include meetings with the marketing team, sales team and project teams to go over what we need to do that week. I do a lot of the sales and business development, so I'm in constant contact with potential clients who are interested in creating urban farms on their properties. We’ve recently set up a project at a clubhouse, which is going to be used by their restaurant's kitchen, so the morning might include a site visit to check on a project like this. For a farm-to-table project, the chefs decide what they want to grow, and we also organise educational activities for the members of the club. Typically, we plant seasonal herbs, fruits and vegetables — for example, water spinach, sweet potatoes and melons in summer. For the cooler months, it might be things like beetroot, carrots and tomatoes. Edible flowers are also popular right now. Sometimes we get a special request such as habanero chillies, which are expensive and hard to find. We have one client that requested 14 different chillies! It's always a challenge when we’re asked to grow something that isn’t local, because it’s more vulnerable to local pests and diseases, but it's certainly possible.’

Pol tends to the farm


‘I usually eat something on the go between meetings. I'm vegetarian, which can make the options a bit limited. I turned vegetarian many years back because I was worried about the scale at which we’re consuming meat, and wanted to make a more conscious decision about what I was eating.’

Rooftop Republic Academy holds urban farming workshops and training programmes on the roof of the Business Environment Council in Kowloon Tong. Image courtesy of Rooftop Republic


‘We help schools and educational institutions integrate farming into their curricular or extracurricular activities, so in the afternoon, I might have a meeting with a school about introducing a programme. This includes a site check to ensure they have enough sunlight, access to water and accessibility to create an urban farm. I then prepare a proposal based on that. It’s really fun to work with kids — taking them out of their comfort zone and putting them in the middle of a farm is a wonderful sight to see. They love the insects, and they love to get their hands dirty — their reactions are priceless. I find it so rewarding.

Typically, I might also check in on our outdoor offline events — from one-off workshops to in-depth courses, and everything in-between — but in 2020, we’ve been pivoting to online courses. One positive of the pandemic is that we’ve seen an uptake in home gardening — people have been locked up and they’re looking for things to do, or have kids to entertain. They’ve also realised how vulnerable we are to shocks to our food system. So, we’ve seen a surge of interest in growing food at home. We offer a range of Grow Kits to help people do this themselves.’

Rooftop Republic has been working with Swire Properties since 2017 on the farm at The Loop


'I usually finish work around seven-thirty. I try and avoid working in the evening, but I can’t say I always succeed! I might play football, or I'll have a glass of wine and cook dinner using the vegetables and herbs I'm growing at home – I love throwing veggies in the oven with a bunch of fresh oregano, thyme or rosemary.'