Great story from Chiang Mai, Thailand, where Supawut Boonmahathanakorn, a community architect who works on housing solutions, managed to get permission from the city to organise an urban farm.
“We had previously mapped the city’s unused spaces with an idea to plant trees to mitigate air pollution. The landfill, which had been used for 20 years, was one of those spaces, [p]oor families spend more than half their earnings on food, so when their incomes dried up, they were struggling to feed their families. This farm has been a lifeline for some of them.”
With pandemic lockdowns, reduced economic activity, and almost non-existent travel, many poor local familiers were quickly at risk and couldn’t afford food, the project came at a perfect time to help them produce it locally. With the help of donations garnered on social media and equipment loaned by the city, “about half a dozen homeless families, students from a public school and members of the public grow eggplant, corn, bananas, cassava, chilli, tomatoes, kale and herbs.”
This small, fast-growing farm, sustaining families, is a small-scale example of some of the benefits of urban agriculture. Whether on rooftops, donated or loaned land, or even forgotten spaces under highways and along railroad tracks, they can bring self-sufficiency, hyperlocal vegetables to food deserts, opportunities for the community, and sometimes small incomes for people who create their own jobs.