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China: Shanghai’s Suburban Farm on Chongming Island

One of Shen Hong’s farms, located in Xianqiao Town on Chongming Island, presents a bucolic scene of man and nature existing in harmony.

“Urban agriculture, like farming in suburban areas in big cities like Shanghai, is different from the traditional way of farming,” says Huang, an urban planner for more than 20 years. “It is aimed not only at fulfilling the need for food production, but also at providing local residents and urban consumers with a deeper understanding of how our daily lives relate to nature.”

By Yao Minji
Shine
Apr 11, 2018

Excerpt:

Like many modern farms in suburban Shanghai, Huang hosts workshops that are especially popular among families with children. Visitors can see how crops are grown organically and come to understand how somewhat higher costs of food are worth the knowledge that what we eat is safe and nutritious.

“The idea of sustainable farming depends heavily on consumers becoming more eco-minded,” Shen says. “We have forgotten the nature of agriculture. It is to supply nutrition and make you healthy. But consumers are typically driven by taste and price. For many years, most consumers have placed a higher priority on taste and low price than on quality and nutrition.”

He cites the example of rice. Its taste depends on its variety. Consumers can’t detect chemical fertilizers or pesticides used to produce the food they eat. Rice may taste better when harvested at its first signs of maturity, but it will have higher nutritional value if the harvest is delayed a week or 10 days, he says.

“We try our best to balance both considerations,” Shen tells Shanghai Daily. “Demand dictates supply. The more consumers choose quality and nutrition, the more farmers will be willing to use organic and sustainable farm methods.”

Read the complete article here.

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