Rooftop gardening: better environment and much more

From Dublin1 to Montréal, many cities around the world promote the development of urban rooftop farming. Some of these urban experiments are also conducted in China. Many of these urban farms are actually operated by specialised companies, which ensure that they are quite efficient. In our opinion, it would make sense if local residents were involved in these initiatives.

In a country like China, which is undergoing a massive and rapid urbanisation, a large part of the urban population actually comes from the countryside. Including rural migrants in this kind of project can create societal benefits in the city. There have been several studies focusing on the positive effects of these green rooftops on environment, but rooftop farms may also bring social advantages to urban communities. As noted by my colleague Ai Chi-Han in a previous post, community gardens strengthen relations among residents. Urban rooftop farms can play a similar function and an also improve intergenerational relationships. By gardening on rooftop farms, elders who spent a large part of their life in the countryside could share time and experience with youngsters, who are more and more interested in healthy products. This experience transfer could also continue at lower levels, in the kitchen, for instance, where the old generation will pass on their recipes to the younger generation with the vegetables they have produced together.

This positive effect of urban rooftop farms may seem anecdotic at first sight. Yet, in an urbanising China where traditional social reference points are being challenged, urban authorities should encourage these initiatives that smooth relations between generations and help bring rural elders respect.

  1. Alison Healy (July 17, 2013), Dublin rooftop Urban Farm showcases a growing movement ,The Irish Times http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/dublin-rooftop-urban-farm-showcases-a-growing-movement-1.1465783, accessed October 23, 2013 []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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