February 27 2013

Urban Farming Growing in Shanghai, China

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.Shanghai China urban farming

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.Shanghai China urban farming

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.

Sophie Plottel

Sophie Plottel, a former GSP blogger, is a graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and a minor concentration in Global Development Studies. A native of Vancouver, Canada, she is interested in the continuing efforts of cities to adapt their policies and development strategies in response to climate change. Currently pursuing a master's of science in planning at the University of Toronto, she is studying the policies of sustainable urban development in emerging cities. After living in Shanghai, China for a year, she has became actively involved in Shanghai’s emerging environmental movement and enjoyed exploring the city's vibrant and diverse streetscape.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 at 9:13 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environment, Environmental Non-Profit, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “Urban Farming Growing in Shanghai, China”

  1. Steven Petsinis Says:

    Amazing article Sophie.
    In the 3rd World groups such as these are imperative to provide the skills and knowledge to future generations of urban communities.
    Hopefully this can provide a paradigm shift in regards to how ever expanding cities such as Shanghai utilize their green space.
    Have you got a link to the sites of any of these awareness groups?

  2. Jennifer Seydel Says:


    I would love to learn more about urban ad in Shanghai. I will be there in mid-April. Are there resources or groups that I should connect with?

  3. Sophie Plottel Says:

    Steven and Jennifer,

    Thank you for your comments. Here are some of the groups relating to urban farming in Shanghai. Most organizations welcome volunteers and I’m sure would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

    1. Good to China organizes various events and workshops relating to urban farming in Shanghai. http://goodtochina.com/
    2. Shanghai Roots and Shoots has an organic garden program that teaches organic gardening to local students. http://www.jgi-shanghai.org/index.php/english/
    3. Slow food Shanghai has links to events, information and other resources on the slow food movement. http://www.slowfood-shanghai.org/
    4. Information on eating well in Shanghai. http://eatwellshanghai.com/
    5. BioFarm operates an organic farm in the city. It has a CSA delivery program, markets and lets visitors tour the facilities. http://www.biofarm.cn/en/index2.html
    6. Jiashan Market has rooftop gardens and holds bi-monthly farmer’s markets outdoors. http://www.jiashanmarket.com/en/

    This is not an exhaustive list by any means. There are many groups doing great work in this city and urban farming is just beginning here.

  4. Urban Agriculture: a brief primer | Fighting The Biocrisis Says:

    […] outside the “West” include small start-up farms in Shanghai,China, hydroponic vegetable gardens in Vietnam, government-backed urban agriculture projects in […]

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