Urban Agriculture: Rooftop Gardens in Beijing

Urban agriculture is a growing, important trend in the development of more ‘sustainable cities’.  Currently, despite appearing as centres of progress and development, cities are some of the most vulnerable, insecure and unsustainable places in the world.  Cities rely immensely on flows of food, water, resources, and energy from outside, often far away places.  If these flows were to be interrupted for any reason, the city would starve.  On it’s own, the city does not produce what it needs to maintain itself, and so city-dwellers are left vulnerable to shocks that happen in the far off places of production (or to shocks like loss of power, etc.).

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Furthermore, ‘food deserts’ are a big problem in urban centres.  Food deserts are places in the city, often in poorer areas, where the more high-end and healthier markets and restaurants are not to be found.  People in poorer areas of cities are reduced to buying less nutritious, cheaper food from discount grocery stores or fast food chains in their area.  Even the high-end markets and restaurants have to have much (if not most) of their food shipped in from afar, which makes the food less fresh and often infused with preservatives, and which wastes enormous energy in fuel to transport the food around the globe.

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So, how do we help to make the city a more self-sustaining place?  How do we reduce travel distance for our food, and provide healthier options to all neighbourhoods in the city?  Local, organic urban agriculture is a growing part of the solution.  There have been many great innovations and creative uses of urban spaces for agriculture across the globe.  In Beijing, for example, there are now over 100 urban farms across the city, when just a few years ago there were none.  This video takes a look at the trend through the development of one of Beijing’s rooftop farms:

All cities should be thinking about creative ways to farm healthy food in urban areas.  To reduce the vulnerability of cities to outside shocks, re-using and re-vamping urban spaces (like rooftops) to be productive places is a step towards greater sustainability. Increasingly, we can aim to incorporate the natural with the built, and design cities that have a more balanced relationship with the environment.

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2 Comments on “Urban Agriculture: Rooftop Gardens in Beijing”

  1. Steven McCabe January 16, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    What an interesting and inspiring video and article.

    • utopiandreaming January 16, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

      Hopefully we’ll see more and more urban farms developing around the world!

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