Organic Farming in Urban China: Reflections from a Study Tour
There are also plots here for people to rent and grow their own
By Stephen Couling
22nd July 2012
Signs of a healthier, cleaner and greener China are around us. We are walking, one morning, from the bus stop some way north of the Summer Palace in Beijing to visit Little Donkey Farm, a 15 Hectare organic, open-field operation set up in 2008 in Houshajian West Village in the Haidian District in north-west Beijing. Here is Beijing’s first-ever Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) scheme. It also had partnerships with the Haidian District Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the Renmin University School of Agricultural, Economics and Rural Reconstruction Department. The stated mission here is “to include agriculture in the tertiary industry of culture and heritage through mobilising not just farmers, but citizens, NGOs, and governments to join the sustainable agricultural movement.”
Little Donkey also seeks to use international experience to build “civic agriculture and cooperative sustainable agriculture.” And so here we are – doing just that; and shortly after we arrive from Australia, a group of Californian students join us; and so off we go on our tour.
About half the farm is given over to large plots currently growing cabbages, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and white daikon radishes. These are farmed by locals and sold into the CSA. There are also plots here for people to rent and grow their own – in England these are called ‘allotments’. They range in size from 30 to 60 square metres, and are models of intensive growing amid a host of bamboo structures.