This article was originally published on the foods-future website.

Sustenir Agriculture Hong Kong is turning two on 1 May! To celebrate, they are giving away 1,519 bags (they were born here on 1/5/19) of their fresh-from-the-farm premium produce at various locations on 30 April and 1–2 May.

Sustenir Mobile giving away free kale

Free kale from Sustenir Mobile

If you’ve tried Sustenir’s kale, you know it’s super clean and fresh. If you’ve seen it but not tried it, get to one of their Sustenir-Mobile locations (see below) for a free bag of kale. And if you have no idea what Sustenir is, read on for an introduction.

What is Sustenir?

Launched in Singapore in 2013, Sustenir expanded into Hong Kong in 2019 as its first Southeast Asian market. Originally found in supermarkets around Hong Kong with two products – Tuscan and curly kale – they have expanded their range to include crispy oak and green oak lettuce, and they are currently trialling rocket.

We recently visited the 25,000-square-foot farm in Tuen Mun, with two mini foodies in tow owing to the weird and wonderful school schedules we enjoy now. Angus Mak has been with Sustenir since late 2019, and he graciously showed us around the “farm” (located on a high level of an industrial building) whilst keeping a careful eye on us.

It’s difficult to appreciate the level of care that has gone into the growing of fresh produce at this indoor farm. Everyone near the plants wears protective gear – suits, gloves, hair and shoe covers – and we were led through an airlock before entering the farm area to remove any potentially damaging particulars. This was a big hit with the mini foodies.

Foodie and , Hong Kong

We are incognito, sort of

The kale was also a hit. It’s because everything is uber-controlled – Sustenir’s controlled environment agriculture (CEA) technology monitors temperature, humidity and spectrum of light, and the airlock restricts what organisms are allowed in – that the kale we were able to try directly off the plants is quite unlike any we’ve had before. This is a premium product.

A taste test

Is Sustenir kale really that different?

  • It’s very clean. No dirt or insect infestation has ever touched these leaves. There are no pesticides. Each leaf of kale is pristine and newborn.
  • It’s very tender – even the stalk. Angus explained that there is no wind, so the stalks do not need to toughen up in ever-swaying conditions. Without any harsh sunlight, the leaves do not harden.
  • It’s not at all bitter. The two mini foodies finished a bag of raw curly kale on the trip home from the farm. This has never happened before, and it’s all a bit weird, to be honest (but in a good way).
  • It’s fresh. We just picked it, duh. Generally, kale leaves picked in the morning are off for delivery to supermarkets in the afternoon. Angus tells us they have tested the kale, and it will remain fresh in the fridge for at least 14 days.

There are some secrets – proprietary technologies that cannot be discussed. A great deal of time and energy have been invested, and the team are very passionate about Hong Kong and growing local produce even if there isn’t any farmland to use. Sustenir’s products do cost more than their equivalents from the wet market, but not extravagantly so.

The environment & Sustenir

It’s easy to see that Sustenir uses much less water than regular farming. Water at the farm is reused over and over, with the necessary nutrients added periodically, and there is no fertiliser run-off and no soil. There is also no need for cold-chain airfreight and the associated logistical nightmare and uncertainty of international transport. The produce lasts longer in your fridge, giving you every chance to use it and reducing dreaded food waste.

However, the obvious downside is that there is an increased need for electricity in order to grow produce indoors, and this is probably a substantial amount. Until the numbers become public, we can’t know for sure what Sustenir’s environmental credentials are, but there are certainly a lot of positives here. And with the obvious differences in taste and texture, we feel like this is almost a different product to normal kale anyway.

Sustenir giveaway details

Sustenir-Mobile will be located at the following locations:

  • Dates: 30 April–2 May 2021
  • Time: 11am–7pm
  • Locations:
    • 30 April: Tsim Sha Tsui (Hoi Fong Road) and Kwun Tong (Tsun Yip Street)
    • 1 May: Mongkok (near Langham Place)
    • 2 May: Causeway Bay (near SOGO)

These locations are subject to change, so please keep an eye on Sustenir’s Facebook and Instagram pages for the most up-to-date details.

To receive your free pack of kale:

  1. Take a photo of the Sustenir-Mobile at the Sustenir backdrop or with a bag of Sustenir kale
  2. Post the pic on Facebook or Instagram and tag Sustenir as well as the hashtags #SustenirHK, #SustenirMobile and #Sustenir流動車
  3. Show one of the promotional staff your post and receive your free bag of Sustenir kale and fun kale recipes to try at home!

Where to find Sustenir otherwise

  • 3hreesixty
  • city’super
  • Fusion
  • Jou Sun
  • Market Place by Jasons
  • Taste
  • Wellcome
Recipe: Better not bitter kale brownies

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