China’s ‘post-demolition’ urban farmers
Photo by Sue Anne.
Vegetables from a tiny space of land on what had been rubble
By Sue Anne
Shanghain Street Stories
Nov 22, 2010
I recently returned to Dongjiadu (upon learning that westward demolition has resumed with the intention to completely flatten the north part of Old Town (which also hangs blocks away from the Huangpu River by early next year.
In the sole structure that has been spared for refurbishment – the Shangchuan Huiguan or Merchant Shipping Hall – lives a family from Anhui who are responsible for organizing the razing. Nearby, another crumbling structure housed workers from Chongqing, also involved in scrapping and demolition.
These migrant families have been moving around the area and into whatever available space while doing their jobs. The Shangchuan Huiguan is the latest accommodation before it has to be renovated.
On my way out, the matriarch of the family was picking some vegetables from a tiny space of land on what had been rubble only months ago. In effort to reduce costs and control their own food supplies, the families planted small plots of vegetables (bak choy seems hardy and easy to grow, large cabbage, spring onions etc) which look so out of place amidst dump trucks, cranes, scrap and rubble.
The family from Chongqing had a more ambitious farm plot, managed communally by neighbors living in individual shanty shacks (6 planks of wood, a bed and a small table).