Hong Kong, China


Photographer: Xaume Olleros

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Hong Kong, one of the world’s most densely populated cities, imports more than 90% of its total food supply. But recent food scandals, and worries about over-dependence on products grown on large-scale commercial farms, are pushing up demand for healthier and more nutritious produce. Helping fill a tiny part of this demand is Rooftop Republic, a social enterprise whose aim is to advance urban farming by establishing and maintaining organic farm set-ups around Hong Kong. At workshops run on rooftops across the city, Hong Kongers Michelle Hong and Andrew Tsui, and Pol Fabrega from Spain, the team behind Rooftop Republic, use Cantonese and English to show urban dwellers how to grow their own food at home. In a city where eating is central to social life, such knowledge is vital to help urban dwellers connect with the skills and knowledge needed to build sustainable and local food systems. 


Darchen, China


Photographer: Samuel Zuder

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition)

Tseten Dorjee (above) is headmaster of the Tibetan Medical and Astro Institute in Darchen, a village in western Tibet, one of the world’s poorest and most remote regions. Since the mid-1990s Tseten has taught traditional Tibetan medicine, astrology, nutrition, ethics and language to young Tibetans. Some of his graduates have stayed on to work at the institute, but most have returned to their home villages to look after basic health care in rural communities. His institute stands at the foot of Mount Kailash, a holy site for Tibetan Buddhists. As well as training students, its staff also take care of the health problems suffered by pilgrims visiting the area, the most common of which is altitude sickness caused by Darchen’s location 4,575 metres above sea level.


Bixiang, China


Photographer: Liu Junyang

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In Bixiang, a Miao village in south-west China’s Guizhou province, homes are built using a set of practices handed on from one generation to the next. On a day deemed auspicious for construction, work starts as soon as Yang Dinghong’s neighbours and other members of his village arrive to help him. They begin by setting the building’s alignment, then they lay the building’s foundations – a framework of logs raised half a metre or so above the ground. Next comes putting up the four parallel walls that divide the house’s interior into three rooms. The room between the second and the third of these walls is the house’s living room – the “zhengtang”. When the zhengtang’s walls are in place, a pig is dragged into the room and killed. Some of its blood is sprinkled over the house’s foundations and pillars. The last big task is putting up the building’s sustaining walls. When they are in place, the builders take a break to eat a meal of rice and chicken. Much work remains finishing and decorating Dinghong’s house. But with its basic structure completed, fireworks are set off and guests from local villages arrive bearing gifts. Bixiang has a new home.