Hong Kong’s Rooftop Farming
Hong Kong imports more than 90% of its food, and more than 92% of its vegetables come from mainland China. Like many densely populated Chinese cities, Hong Kong’s urbanization has spared very little arable land, its present reserve located in the New Territories with only 1.6% exploited. And these lands are now facing new urban development projects: the New Territories might see 13% of its cultivated land disappear in a new government project.
This spatial tension between urban areas and the need for a sufficient supply of foods, coupled with growing concerns over Chinese food safety and security, has provided an increasing interest and demand for urban and local agriculture—particularly for all-natural and organic alternatives. Much like in New York, Berlin, and Tokyo, organic rooftop farms in Hong Kong seem to be multiplying. City Farm has invested $65,000 HK in a mobile farm of 10,000 m2 on the roof of a 14-floor building complex, importing organic soil from Denmark and Germany. While the new movement may not yet be strong enough to influence the daily diets of the majority of city dwellers, the excitement it is generating is symptomatic of a growing concern among urban populations and brings to light some of the collateral damage that results from rapid urbanization as it affects the daily lives of city inhabitants.
Is urban agriculture possible on a larger scale? For now, the Chinese government seems rather restrictive of these new initiatives. But the growing demand for quality products from an increasingly aware and vocal urban population seems to question the compatibility of health and nutrition and life in the city.