Space crunch in cities? How rooftop farming is becoming more than just a trend – Livemint


On the prime of a three-storey constructing in Hong Kong, with automotive horns blasting on the streets under, Jim Fung teaches a dozen college students easy methods to skinny out choi sum greens.

“All the time use the sources you have got,” the trainer mentioned as he positioned shredded workplace paper into soil-filled plastic crates and wound string round bamboo sticks to make assist frames.

Fung was teaching the primary cohort of scholars in an academy run by social enterprise Rooftop Republic to show a brand new technology of city farmers as demand for his or her expertise soars.

The organisation is spearheading a motion to show Hong Kong’s idle rooftops and concrete areas into farms to assist residents reconnect with nature and make the finance hub extra habitable.

As soon as a cluster of fishing and farming villages, Hong Kong is now probably the most densely packed cities on Earth, with 7.four million folks residing on 1 / 4 of its 1,100 sq. km (425 sq. miles) of land.

The remainder is especially nation parks and rural areas, however residing in skyscrapers and dealing lengthy hours has triggered Hong Kongers to lose contact with the character round them, say college students on the academy.

“We have change into indifferent from the historical past of the ocean and land that Hong Kong had,” mentioned Jessica Cheng, a Rooftop Republic scholar who works for a philanthropic organisation.

Andrew Tsui, one in every of Rooftop Republic’s three co-founders, mentioned he desires the academy to be “Le Cordon Bleu” (a well-known cookery college) of city farming.

To him, meaning a spot the place graduates change into masters of the observe and on the similar time change into “stewards of our planet, our wellbeing, and our communities”, he mentioned.

Based in 2015, Rooftop Republic has arrange greater than 50 city farms thus far.

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It launched its academy in March, beginning with occasions and workshops. The organisation’s first city farming course, which started final month, teaches college students botany, natural farming and easy methods to handle soil, pests, weeds and water sources.

Their classroom sits atop the headquarters of Hong Kong’s Enterprise Setting Council, a non-profit selling sustainability on the planet’s second most-expensive metropolis for property after Monaco, in keeping with world realtor Knight Frank.

Since 2008 greater than 60 rooftop farms have sprouted up round Hong Kong, protecting 15,000 sq. metres (161,460 sq. ft), mentioned Mathew Pryor, who heads the College of Hong Kong’s panorama structure division.

He estimates one other six sq. km (2.three sq. miles) of rooftop house might be out there – about half the dimensions of Hong Kong’s airport and simply lower than the seven sq. km (2.7 sq. miles) of agricultural land within the metropolis.

Hoping to increase that potential, Tsui instructed the Thomson Reuters Basis that Rooftop Republic has been working with builders to incorporate rooftop farms of their design blueprints.

Sooner or later, he predicted, rooftop farmers can be as obligatory as facility managers who take care of clubhouses and swimming pools.

His organisation will practice about 150 city farmers over the subsequent 12 months, he added.

“We now have the facility to form the long run metropolis we stay in … by means of demonstrating how adopting an city farm way of life helps the top client change into conscious of ecology, biodiversity, nature, wellbeing and a round meals system,” Tsui mentioned.


Within the 1,200-square-metre (13,000-square-foot) Sky Backyard in Metroplaza Mall – the most important city farm atop a retail mall in Hong Kong – residents can domesticate edible flowers and fruit bushes as they attend way of life lessons like aware gardening.

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Analysis by ecological and agricultural consultants exhibits rooftop farms not solely produce meals, but in addition create inexperienced areas and increase biodiversity.

Additionally they assist mitigate the so-called “warmth island” impact in cities, when warmth is trapped by dark-coloured roads and buildings.

Simply as importantly, Tsui mentioned, the farms construct communities among the many individuals who look after the crops.

“There may be enormous potential for rooftop farming in a high-density metropolis,” mentioned Pryor, the panorama structure knowledgeable.

“Notably if it may be aligned with social points, like aging-in-place,” he added, referring to when folks have the prospect to develop previous in their very own houses.

Entry to a close-by rooftop farm may help the aged interact with their group and maintain them in good psychological and bodily well being, he defined.

In a research of 108 folks utilizing rooftop farms, Pryor discovered greater than three-quarters of respondents mentioned they noticed social worth as a very powerful good thing about engaged on the farms, with socialising topping the listing.

They added it was good for his or her well being and for studying about nature.

Such studying is vital, mentioned academy scholar Alyson Hamilton, a trainer who runs her college’s micro-garden.

“(My) college students haven’t any information about meals, the place it comes from, how a lot plastic it is available in,” she lamented.


Alongside the excessive value and shortage of house in Hong Kong, the primary problem for budding city farmers is having the correct circumstances, Tsui mentioned.

The fundamentals that crops want – pure daylight, contemporary water and contemporary air – are sometimes briefly provide within the metropolis, he added.

“Our huge query is, if lots of our metropolis areas aren’t appropriate for crops to outlive, then how are they conducive for human beings?” he requested.

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With greater than half the world’s inhabitants residing in cities, Tsui mentioned he is utilizing what he has learnt from rooftop farming to interact city planners and form a human-centric metropolis.

He questions whether or not the transfer towards so-called “sensible cities” all over the world truly permits city-goers to stay smarter.

“Are we smarter in getting nearer to nature for our wellbeing? Are we smarter in the way in which we design our neighbourhoods, permitting entry to contemporary air, direct daylight and nature?” he requested.

Working with architects, planners and builders permits Rooftop Republic to include a few of these elements into the blueprints for brand new developments.

However rooftop farms – that are authorized in Hong Kong – presently exist in a gray space between formal metropolis planning and casual group motion, mentioned Pryor, the panorama structure professor.

Each the town’s New Agricultural Coverage paper, printed in 2014, and the Hong Kong 2030 strategic plan acknowledged rooftop farms as enjoying a major half in city agriculture. Authorities officers didn’t reply to interview requests.

Pryor want to see the town’s authorities embody such farms into mainstream constructing and land coverage, in recognition of how necessary they’re for creating sustainable cities.

Tsui agreed, saying city planners have to create ecosystems to nurture folks’s connection to nature.

“We need to put nature and group again into the place we play, the place we work, the place we stay,” he mentioned.

The story is by Thomson Reuters Basis

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. Solely the headline has been modified.

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