After years of relentless growth, Shanghai, China is entering a new phase of environmentally sustainable development. Issues such as urban farming have become hot topics of discussion. Ever-increasing urban density, competition for scarce land and a rising demand for food from the burgeoning middle class, Shanghai will need to ensure that the opportunity to produce food in the city is possible in practice.
The main challenge facing urban farming in Shanghai remains to be a lack of awareness from the general population. Without the proper education and know-how, the urban farming movement is unlikely to take shape on a large scale. And with little to no outdoor space available, few options are available to those eager to grow their own foods. Many residents have turned to creative land-intensive solutions such as balcony or rooftop farming to produce fresh, organic, healthy, and cheap foods.
A number of awareness and environmental non-profit groups currently exist in Shanghai and are at the forefront of the urban farming movement in China, encouraging and facilitating residents as they start their own small gardens. Ultimately, the agent for change lies on the residents as they establish small-scale initiatives such as balcony or rooftop farming. Nevertheless, it is also imperative that the government institutes policy changes that support the need for urban agriculture as a means of ensuring long-term agricultural sustainability.
In a city largely driven by economic development at the moment, however, prioritizing environmentally sustainable development may seem like an issue that could be pushed to the backburner if not for residential advocacy. Moreover, due to the particular nature of the Chinese governance, some incentive or subsidy programs in place in other cities may not be viable options for Shanghai.
How can Shanghai sustainably integrate urban agriculture into its urban design and development goals? What are some ways that other cities have successfully incorporated urban agriculture into their development plans?
Credits: Images by Sophie Plottel. Data linked to sources.