Community Garden in Beijing. It is hard but not impossible

Today, two months after my arrival in China, I have finally found exactly what I was looking for: a community garden in Beijing!! This is the SANYUANLI COMMUNITY GARDEN.

Entrance to “Beixiaojie” housing estate, where Sanyuali Community Garden is located

It is true that in Shanghai we did see some (Jiashan Skyfarm and Anken Rooftop), but here in Beijing things were getting difficult. As I told you the other day in Searching for urban orchards in China: very few initiatives of this type are an adventure.

This community garden in Beijing is in the northeast of the city, near the Sanyuanqiao subway stop. It is inside the back garden of a block of flats (Sanyuanli Beixiaojie- building 3 courtyard). In any case, the door is open and anyone can enter without a key or without having to knock.

The challenge of urban gardens in China

How it all started and why it is so difficult to create a community garden in China.

The project for this community garden in Beijing has been promoted by a French girl, Hélène Bernard. She studied political science in France and came to Beijing a couple of years ago to learn Chinese. She is a person committed to the environment and to the sustainability of cities, so she thought that she could do something related to urban agriculture in the neighborhood where she lived, in Sanyuanli.

Like the Good to China initiative, this project was carried out thanks to volunteers and experts (some Agricultural Engineers) who have helped Hélène with administrative aspects and with her task of setting up and running the orchard. The support of the Green Commission (belonging to the French Junior Economic Chamber of Beijing – French Chamber of Commerce in Beijing ) was basic, and of the sponsors who provided free seeds, substrates, etc.

It was not an easy task because, as I have been told, the administrative obstacles to starting a place like this (which is on public land) are quite a few. Although at first it seemed that they were going to have the support of the «Residence’s community center of Sanyuali» (something like the center that manages public lands and the activities that are organized in the neighborhood), in the end this did not happen, and they were told that they were going to do was an illegal activity.

Unfortunately, here in China you can often find these kinds of answers, especially if you are a foreigner or if you want to do something a little «different». As long as you don’t get upset… it’s better to say no. After making sure that this was not the case and that they could carry it out if more than 50% of the residents of the urbanization voted in favor, they decided to speak directly with them. The distribution of informative pamphlets and some talks finally bore fruit. They finally achieved it through this more or less “legal” route. In April 2015, four months after the paperwork began, Sanyuanli Community Garden opened its doors!

Why create a community garden in Beijing?

In the Sanyuanli neighborhood there are many unused spaces, so Hélène thought it would be a good idea to create a community of urban farmers in one of these places. Another reason for making this decision, in addition to the environment or the recovery of spaces, was to promote social relations among members of the Chinese community.

As he tells me, in general, the people here have very little contact, many don’t even know their neighbors, and they don’t usually get involved in activities to improve social relationships. A place like this would be perfect for the residents of the area to interact and learn things together.

In addition, the project could serve to inform about healthier lifestyles (such as organic food), to connect these people with nature and to promote activities such as recycling or composting.

These were the objectives of the creation of this community garden in Beijing, and, fortunately, almost all of them have been fulfilled. The place looks much nicer, not abandoned as it was before; and the people who have participated (adults, children, retirees…) have ended up very satisfied with the results. In fact, Hélène and her team did some surveys at the end of the season, and all the people who have been participating this year have been enthusiastic and proud to have done so. All have found very useful for daily life what they have learned during this time about horticulture, gardening, composting, etc. and, in addition, they point out that having fun, meeting new people and making friends have been some of the most interesting aspects of the experience.

As a negative aspect, the team points out the low participation (which was less than expected): only about 5 families have actively participated from start to finish, so one of the challenges for later years is to reach more people and make them all These people recommend you to their friends and families.

The truth is that I still have a lot of things to tell you about this community garden in Beijing. Who has participated, what have they grown, what activities have they organized in these months, what will happen to the garden from now on… In order not to make it too long, I will leave all that for the next post. If you click here: S anyuali Community Garden. A community garden in Beijing, you can learn more about this interesting project! Greetings!

Related posts

Deja una respuesta

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *

Botón volver arriba