china paves the way for a new definition of urban farming
 
china paves the way for a new definition of urban farming china paves the way for a new definition of urban farming
mar 22, 2015

china paves the way for a new definition of urban farming

china paves the way for a new definition of urban farming
image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 

 

2011 marked a paramount year in modern chinese history- the year that the majority of the population went from inhabiting rural farmland to living in urban sprawl. it doesn’t seem like a particular accomplishment considering that numerous countries have already reached this milestone, but when you consider that china contains 20% of the world’s population and only 10% of its arable land available to feed this population (a large percentage of that already deemed too polluted), the scale of a potential catastrophe suddenly casts a long and seemingly endless shadow on the topic. if china’s farmers are leaving the countryside- due to both eviction and personal choice- then who is to cultivate all the food for a traditionally self-sustaining culture with over a billion mouths to feed?


image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 

 

luckily, it is a culture whose roots of agricultural ingenuity stretch as deep as their buildings do high. urban farming has been developed alongside the growth of its cities.  it was so efficient in fact, that many of china’s largest cities almost exclusively sustained themselves with local produce- most was sold within 10km of the farm, and within a day of its cultivation, explains the wwf. in shanghai particularly, the government refined a very effective system for not only food production but waste management as well, recycling biomass into usable clean energy. in the late 20th century, shanghai produced ‘nearly 100% of chicken, eggs and milk, 80% of vegetables and freshwater fishes, and 50% of pork’ in a 300,000 hectare city-managed green ring integrated into the city- a cyclical and veritable urban farm.


image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 

 

of course, this balanced system worked when the population was spread out between rural and urban. with the need for development pushing further into what was once arable land, citizens find themselves displaced and obligated to become part of an urban (and to them foreign) community, forcing the government to come up with a new system of urban farming that would not only help to solve the issue of diminishing farmland and food supply, but also assist in regulating urban air qualities and green space for those who want and need it. the ruaf foundation (resource centers on urban agriculture & food security) has implemented new stakeholder-based systems to make sure that the close tie between agrarian and urban remains strong, and that agriculture grows alongside the man-made. farmers’ salaries are increased, as well as government subsidies and funding. new and existing programs are improving the way quality control is handled so that a decentralized farming system is guaranteed to produce a high standard of product. private citizens are encouraged to till their own gardens wherever possible, transforming the social framework of the community into one of self-empowerment.


image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 

 

above all, many of china’s cities may become valuable case studies for our developing cities around the world. projects such as except’s master plan for shanghai envision a new typology of urban design whereby the artificial is the new planting bed for the contemporary farm. anybody is capable of growing their own produce for self-consumption, or to make a little extra money on the side. suddenly cities become greener, cleaner, its people happier, and through the recycling of organic waste- more responsible in the production and use of its energy.


image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 

 

of course, the philosophy is much easier than the reality. other cities like chongqing are developing so rapidly that the various micro-farms are being quickly engulfed by a surreal mix of large-scale construction, heavy machinery, animals, and the urban dweller on a summer stroll. this hard clashing of worlds is proving difficult and unsuccessful in some areas but the lessons to be learned can become the key to future urbanization. cities have to develop efficient ways to resolve the issue of green space, energy, and food production alongside (or integrated into) urban sprawl, especially as populations rise and an increasing number of people are engulfed by the sprawl.


image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 


cranes and buildings make up the skyline around once veritable farmland
image courtesy of foreign policy

 

 


dutch studio except envisions the shanghai of the future, integrated with urban green space alongside the built environment
image © except architecture

 

 


street-side existence
image © except architecture

 

 


ground-level structures are converted into live-work marketplaces
image © except architecture

 

 


integrated systems
image © except architecture

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