Sacha Van Damme is the founder of Permaclub, an organic permaculture farm in Clearwater Bay that opened in 2013. With an aim of promoting sustainable living and encouraging a connection with nature, Permaclub hosts workshops and team- building exercises in yoga, meditation, music, art and cooking.He shares his journey with Liv Magaz My family’s from Montreal and Belgium. I was born and raised in Hong Kong and call it home.
Before Permaclub, I had recently moved back to Hong Kong a er completing a BA in London. I spent much of my time building the operations at the the family fashion brand [resort wear label Marie France Van Damme] and Permaclub was in the works simultaneously. It took two years of conceptualisation and research before soil was broken on Permaclub.
The family business supported Permaclub’s mission and agreed to purchase land banks for conservation and agriculture uses.
Permaclub is a pilot project that teaches us how to live in harmony with nature. If we can manage our water, food, waste and energy systems independently, the model can be implemented where it’s needed, with very little capital required.
Our purpose is to regenerate landscapes and to expose a hidden source of value to society.
We encourage guests to join us in harvesting, cooking, composting scraps and planting new seeds. Our garden beds are like a supermarket alley , except that it doesn’t require complicated and degenerative supply chain systems to meet our needs.
We also put a lot of emphasis on soil and what makes it healthy. We get all our participants to play with it using their bare hands, so identify rich nutritious soil from degraded soil.
Hong Kong’s climate is ideal for growing a very wide range of foodstuffs – European greens and veggies in winter and Southeast Asian ingredients in the summer. However, only around 1.5 percent of our fresh food originates from Hong Kong. It has been a very long and difficult journey in getting Hong Kong to understand more about sustainability. People seem to value their own privileges and comfort before environmental wellbeing. There are no real incentives towards sustainability. Individuals and enterprises are not empowered nor encouraged to recycle, garden, compost and reduce consumption. We are addicted to plastic and convenience. I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon. Having said this, there is a progressive movement in Hong Kong that values and promotes the feasibility of a sustainable lifestyle. The best part of what I do is getting to spend my day on my feet, and enjoying a good balance between a disciplined o ice lifestyle indoors, as well as the outdoors.