Rural-Urban Dialogue on Agriculture

广东地区城乡互动 社群的在地化发展

More than a decade ago, we began exploring urban-rural interaction and Community Supported Agriculture with partners in Guangdong Province. In 2017, through two project partners, the Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project and Cantonese Farmers' Market, we continued to promote the development of urban-rural interaction, building more local links for a strong regional network in Guangzhou.

In response to requests by local participants for resource consolidation, deeper exchanges, effective linkages and more synergy, the Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project team shifted its operation focus from nurturing interns to furthering the building of networks, forming co-learning platforms, consolidating resources and enriching platform vitality. In 2017- 2018, nine organisations from both urban and rural areas hosted nine interns, and partners co-organised more than 50 exchanges and learning activities –public talks, discussion meetings, farm visits and overseas exposure trips. We are happy to have more than 40 new members who share the vision.

Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project has also been instrumental in setting up Yinlin Farmer Field School, a local ecological and sustainable living co-learning group. Since March 2017, the school has run 18 courses as well as regular sessions with local new farmers, weekend farmers and citizen groups; it has become so popular that it now runs independently. Participants are considering to expand Yinlin into an ecological community, and the Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project has offered support in this regard.

In 2017, ecological producers, sales and marketing professionals, organisations and individuals concerned about eco-agriculture and sustainable living set up the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) a locally focused quality assurance system that certifies producers. With active stakeholders, PGS runs on trust, social networks, and knowledge exchange, with customers and also producers visiting farms to check on production methods. As a member of PGS, the Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project helps participants reflect on and work towards the development of positive urban-rural interaction. One innovative public project is Harvest Festival, a large-scale consumer education activity fostering cooperation and exchange among partners.

The food markets established by the Urban-Rural Interaction Network Project in 2011 have also been popular, with the number of stalls increasing from four to five in the beginning to more than 40. Producers and consumers interact more deeply here than at typical buy-and-sell markets: in 2018, on top of the two or three markets each month, there were also farm visits, public talks, study tours, and the informal Good Living School held right at the markets.

In all, diverse citizen groups – such as parents concerned with child development, urban farmers interested in growing their own food, and local cultural groups –have become more connected with urban-rural issues. We believe more endeavours will soon come into fruition in Guangdong Province, and beyond.

(from Annual Report 2017-2018)