SKYFARM: A new model of Urban Garden in Shanghai

As you already know from the latest posts in the “Orchards around the world” category, the Agrohuerto team has moved to China. We are dedicating ourselves to looking for Agriculture and Urban Nature in this country and this time… we have moved to Shanghai!!

In the article Urban Nature in Shanghai, what I saw on my trip, I showed you some very interesting parks and vertical gardens, but I only talked about urban gardens. Well, today I will tell you what a Skyfarm is and in more detail how it came about and what is done in one of the ones we visited: Anken Green’s Skyfarm rooftop, an urban garden on a rooftop in Shanghai.

What is a Skyfarm?

The Good to China Association has devised a new type of urban rooftop garden called Skyfarm. These green roofs have several peculiarities:

  • Seminar on beekeeping at the Anken Skyfarm

    It is not just about green spaces without more, food production in cities should be encouraged, and, in particular, the production of organic food (since the objective is to improve the quality of life).

  • They include companies, schools and a community of urban horticulturists who collaborate together by cultivating and attending activities in the same place.
  • In a Skyfarm it is essential to learn and organize courses, workshops and events related to organic and urban agriculture. In other words, the dissemination of these issues is encouraged and supported to improve the sustainability of cities.

As we were told, there are several ways in which a company, school or an individual interested in urban agriculture can participate in a Skyfarm:

  • Schools or educational centers can request tours of one of the three Skyfarms that Good to China has in Shanghai or sign up to participate in the workshops they organize. The objective is to consolidate the knowledge about natural sciences that the children have learned in the classroom, so they always go with their teachers (although later instructors and Skyfarm participants act as guides in the garden). They can also buy products that Good to China sells to facilitate the installation of gardens in the centers (composters, seeds, manuals…) or even request the creation of a Skyfarm in the school itself, as Concordia International School has done.
  • Companies can also sign up for their employees to attend the courses that Good to China organizes at the Skyfarms. They can also collaborate in improving sustainability by giving up part of their space in the buildings to install Skyfarms or collaborating in their maintenance.

Two examples of this in the case of the Anken Green Skyfarm that I am presenting to you today are the cafeteria of the building where this orchard is located (which is responsible for the maintenance and cultivation of more than half of the terraces of this “green roof”) and the company that owns the building: Anken Group.

  • People who, individually, want to participate in cultivating in a Skyfarm can rent a small plot in the Jiashan Skyfarm (in this case the harvest would be their own), or they can participate as volunteers in the maintenance and cultivation of the orchards, where the harvest It is shared.

You can learn more about these places and see some photos on the Shanghai Skyfarms blog.

Who grows at Anken Green Skyfarm and what activities have they done

Several volunteers collaborate in this Skyfarm such as Kylie, Jhon, Jhoan and Julianne (who are the people who received us the day of our visit and whom you can see together with Álvaro in the photo below). Also, from time to time, some of the employees who work in the Anken office building perk up.

This garden has only been running for 7 weeks, so the team of volunteers has had to work hard to get the beds clean and ready to grow, as we can see them now.

Urban garden in Shanghai

The school visits have not yet been organized, but Kyle told us that they are expected to start in March 2016.

Although this Skyfarm is very recent, they have already had time to organize some training sessions, such as a seminar on beekeeping that was held last September (you can see a photo above, where I explained what a Skyfarm is). Or a composting workshop last weekend.

Composting at a Skyfarm

Álvaro will tell you in more detail in the video in the next post (Anken rooftop farm. Urban agriculture in Shanghai) but in this orchard they use a special composting method that I had never seen before: they compost the waste in a triple composting bin and they pass waste from one compartment to another so that the freshest compost is in the first and mature compost (the one that can be used) in the last. In this way they do not mix the new waste with the old ones and they make sure that the compost they use (the one from the third drawer) is well matured. I thought it was a great idea!

Triple composter and vermicompost from the Anken Skyfarm

They also use worm compost that is formed in a vermicompost that the Anken Group company has one floor below (it is the large red container that you see in the photo).

Well, and here’s what I can tell you about this Skyfarm in Shanghai. Very soon my partner Álvaro will tell you more and better! Greetings

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