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China: Shanghai’s Edible Rooftops

Sky Farm in Shanghai uses rooftop agriculture to help urban residents experience nature up close. By Daniel Holmes and Shi Yangkun/Sixth Tone.

With approximately 10 billion square meters of exposed roof space across Chinese cities as of September 2011, according to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the concept has plenty of capacity to grow.

By Liang Chenyu
The Sixth Tone
Oct 24, 2017
(Must see. Mike)


Atop Red Star Macalline Group’s headquarters sits a rooftop farm called Yiyun, which translates as “leaning on the clouds.” Chilies, white gourd, eggplant, chives, and other vegetables flourish across the 4,600-square-meter garden cultivated by the company, which is China’s largest national furniture retailer. The harvested produce is used in the staff cafeteria, and the farm also provides thermal insulation for the building’s top floor, which houses expensive rosewood furniture.

“There is a great contrast between a land of greenery and a land of concrete,” the project’s instigator, Zhou Qun, told Sixth Tone. “It adds some glamour to the cityscape.” In Shanghai — the nation’s leading city in the field of rooftop farming — there are currently around 20 well-established farms, said Tongji University professor of landscape design Liu Yuelai.

Zhou, who heads Red Star Macalline Group’s labor union, initiated construction of the rooftop farm in May 2015 after being inspired by a visit to a similar site in the nearby city of Wuxi the previous year. Yiyun opened a few months later, but it took a year to start turning a profit. According to Zhou, in the first year, the company invested 800,000 yuan ($120,500) into the rooftop farm. “A smaller company would not be able to afford it,” Zhou said.

Read the complete article here.