Flow Farm Champions Community Inclusivity

Discover Flow Farm in Zhongshan, the ideal weekend haven for ASD families near Hong Kong.

FLOW FARM

Share this Article

Hong Kong's relentless tempo can make it difficult to find moments of calm and introspection, a struggle that is particularly acute for families navigating the complexities of life with autism spectrum disorder.

Fortunately, Flow Farm serves as an urban oasis within the hustle and bustle of Zhongshan, offering families a tranquil weekend getaway just a short journey away.

The expansive grounds are an ideal refuge for families looking for a perfect spot to relax and recharge. Visitors also have the opportunity to bond with and care for a variety of animals — an experience sure to be rewarding, considering the therapeutic benefits of animal interactions for individuals with autism. 

Gray Atherton, Assistant Professor in Psychology at the University of Plymouth with a focus on autism research, has observed that environments featuring animals can be especially calming for those with autism spectrum disorder. Simple acts like petting a horse or receiving affection from a dog provide a form of sensory engagement that is often both pleasurable and soothing for autistic individuals.

“Human communication often uses complex double meanings and requires a lot of ‘guesswork,’” Gray says. “Animal communication is more straightforward and relies more on touch and observation than language and facial expression. In this way, autistic people may feel like they can succeed when it comes to understanding animals, and this can build confidence.”

FLOW 4
FLOW 5
FLOW FARM
Justine, pictured in the middle, operates Flow Farm, a sanctuary for over 60 animals.

It’s an observation that Flow Farm owner Justine Kwok frequently makes. Justine was raised in Hong Kong among a menagerie that included cats, fish, and birds, her early years unintentionally laying the foundation for her future path. 

The heartwarming interactions between humans and animals at Flow Farm are a testament to her lifelong compassion for all living creatures. 

While her career initially began in the glamorous world of fashion design, the same industry made her aware of the widespread exploitation of animals. 

This discovery steered her towards a more compassionate course: creating cruelty-free pet products, participating in bear rescue initiatives, and pursuing academic studies in animal-assisted therapy. 

After learning that her father’s petting zoo in Zhongshan was facing issues with overcrowding, Justine stepped in, gradually taking on more management responsibilities and ultimately assuming full control. 

FLOW FARM
FLOW 1
FLOW FARM
The idyllic setting of Flow Farm makes it an ideal destination for family vacations.

Flow Farm is now a sanctuary for over 60 animals, including dogs, retired mules, and hens. 

“I thought, ‘Okay, this is not a zoo anymore. This is a sanctuary,’” Justine says with enthusiasm. “I don't want people to come here to take [or] to treat animals as objects. Animals have their own value and own reason to exist and we need to respect them.”

Flow Farm provides immersive experiences for visitors, including comprehensive packages that may be tailored for custom experiences.

Guests can look forward to participating in outdoor games, creating art amid nature, tending to and harvesting crops for cooking, or upcycling discarded materials into musical instruments. 

Integral to these experiences are the animals, but interaction goes beyond mere petting. 

Informed guides provide insights into animal behavior and communication, teaching visitors the proper ways to approach and interact with different species. Guests can groom and walk the animals, as well as create enrichment toys to enhance the animals’ well-being.

Justine believes that visitors gain immensely from their time at Flow Farm when they establish a profound bond with the animals and cultivate a sense of respect for them — allowing them to overcome their emotional barriers.

 “We’ve seen individuals grappling with depression,” Justine explains. "There was a woman who hadn't spoken for two years. She came and spent time with a large black dog called Night who, despite his intimidating appearance, was incredibly tender and meek. He was so responsive to her emotional needs, stopping and turning back to make sure she was okay every time he felt the slightest bit of uncertainty or discomfort during their walk together. She was moved to tears and began to open up. She started speaking and just kept going."

These transformative experiences have inspired Justine to create an overnight-stay program for children on the spectrum and their families.

As she crafts activities that are mutually enjoyable for both humans and animals, she remains attentive to the need for adaptability in the program’s design, recognizing the wide spectrum of needs among autistic individuals. However, she is confident that Flow Farm is well-equipped to meet the challenge.

“Individuals on the spectrum may find simple social interactions or sensory stimuli such as light and noises highly stressful. Even a short walk in Central can be extremely disorientating and tiring for them,” Justine notes. “I think it is important for them to be able to recharge in a place other than their own home, where they can feel totally at ease, where they are free from anxiety or fear, free from judgment, free to explore and to express themselves; a place where they can nurture their talents and gain self-confidence, a place where they can shine and thrive. I am hoping Flow can be that place for them.” 

Flow Farm & Sanctuary

Address: Wenbishan Country Park, Yong An 3rd Road, Southern District, Zhongshan, Guandong Province, China

Booking: https://farmflow.org/book-now/

Getting to Zhongshan:

Transportation Options from Hong Kong:

  • Ferry:
    • Duration: Approximately 1.5 hours
    • Departure Point: Hong Kong China Ferry Terminal
  • Bus:
  • High-Speed Rail:
    • Duration: Approximately 2 hours
    • Departure Point: Board at the Hong Kong West Kowloon High Speed Rail Station
  • Private Car:
    • Duration: Approximately 2 hours

Accommodations Near Flow Farm:

Crowne Plaza Zhongshan Wing On City

8 Xingnan Road, Southern District, Zhongshan, China 528455

Zhongshan King Century Hotel 

8 Zhongshan No.3 Road, Shiqi District, Zhongshan, China, 528403