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Urban Farmers Union in Beijing, China

Kickoff meeting was on August 11, 2012

Co-organized by HomeShop and Jonas Nakonz

From their website:

A gathering to exchange information on urban farming in Beijing. It’s an opportunity to meet likeminded people, learn some facts and d.i.y. techniques, and share knowledge and experiences. How can we access soil and fertilizer? Where can we get seeds? What materials can we use for containers, and where can we put them? How can we work together to make it easier and more fun?

To address these questions, on the agenda will be a tour of HomeShop’s on-site small farm and composting experiments and Seed Exchange Bank, presentations on small civil-society and community initiatives into agriculture in Beijing, and envisioning possible ways of linking up and cooperating among diverse groups of growers (and potential growers).

We should grow more food in the cities!

Plant a cucumber at your doorstep and you’re instantly beamed into a universe of global politics, complex ecosystems, social change, climate change mitigation, d.i.y. technology, massively improved quality of life and spiritual enlightenment contemplating the beauty of nature. Food sustains life; but eating your average food can contribute to the destruction of biodiversity, global warming and poisoning of soils and water.

Some figures: Chinese agriculture emits almost twice as much greenhouse gas than its entire industrial sector. Of the yearly 50 Million tons of inorganic fertilizer poured onto Chinese soil, only 17% is taken up by crops. The rest is “lost to the environment”. Not to mention the yearly dose of 1.5 million tons of toxic pesticides sprayed on your food, and the coal-burning energy to produce that stuff. What is more, 30% of all fuel guzzling trucks on Chinese roads are actually transporting food – if you could smell the carbon in your dish you’d choke.

Chinese urbanization – the largest migration in human history – has led to the creation of an estimated 10,000 km2 of unused rooftop area in China; that’s a big playground for organic gardeners to counter these problems. There’s tons of wasted organic matter; Beijing alone sends 8000 tons of food waste to the landfills every day and burns another 2000 tons. All of that could be put into compost bins and provide clean nutrients for your food. In Chinese cities, bucket gardening is refreshingly popular, particularly among the elderly. But the potential of urban farming goes far beyond. There are fascinating technologies, ranging from easy self-watering systems from recycled bottles to sensor-controlled automated farms. There is something smart for every space and condition. Urban farming can transform gray concrete into spaces of relaxation and dialogue. It creates community, networks of exchange, a platform for education and empowerment. Don’t wait until governments solve the problems of this planet. If you plant that cucumber, you’re part of a big thing!

Their web page.

Their first compost workshop.

1 comment

1 Marisa Choguill { 09.11.12 at 4:27 am }

Dear Sir,

I thought you would like to know that the 3rd China (Binhai Tianjin) International Eco-City Forum and Exposition will open on September 21. Please see:

Having been invited as an international expert, I will be presenting a paper entitled URBAN AGRICULTURE FOR HEALTHY EATING IN THE ECO-CITY.

In this paper, the importance of URBAN AGRICULTURE will be highlighted for its potential to help urban dwellers to adopt a HEALTHY DIET, one which can replace most of the modern diet that is based on questionable and highly processed staple foods and which, as medical experts have informed us, is causing diseases of worldwide pandemic proportion such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and cancer, in addition to autoimmune, allergic and degenerative diseases such as asthma, psoriasis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Accordingly, the paper will contend that HEALTH should be a requirement of sustainability – we cannot have sustainable cities if their residents are not sustainable. Urban agriculture will also be defended as one way of combating greenhouse gas emissions and for alleviating the heat island effect in cities. The paper concludes by stressing the need for planners to set appropriate land use regulations in support of urban agriculture in the eco-cities.

Although it is just an academic paper, it serves the cause of the need for a healthy diet, defending urban agriculture as an alternative for achieving it.

I would hope to meet you there! Best regards,

Marisa Choguill