An edible jungle on concrete

Urban agroforestry on balconies
23 and 24 December 2019

After arriving in Wufeng district (霧峰區) in Taichung, in a city block of adjoining houses, I am welcomed by a vertical jungle ! It is the abode of Florent Caquineau, a French who has been living in Taiwan for almost thirty years. From a plant bed on the first floor, through the balconies of the three floors and up to the roof of the building, whether on the facades facing north or south, each cubic meter contains plants that are mostly edible, and even fruit trees! Come with me to discover how an urban building has been transformed into a multi-tiered food garden!

View from the south-facing facade
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Fungiculture & Agroecology

How to integrate mushroom growing in sustainable systems ?
13 to 22 December 2019

It’s in Huaguling farm that I had for the first time the opportunity to observe fungiculture, that is to say the cultivation of mushrooms. As I am a big eater of these neither vegetal nor animal foodstuffs, I have always been curious to know how they are grown.

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Sacha inchi, the nutritious perennial Inca peanut

A perennial crop for agricultural diversification in mountainous zones
13 to 22 December 2019

Sacha Inchi, or inca peanuts. After reaching maturity, the fruit containing the seeds dries on the plant.

In Zhuolan township, Miaoli county, Ms. Kang and Mr. Tianxiang created Huaguling farm after their retirement.  Their agricultural knowledge help them to make use of a really sloped terrain to cultivate a nice diversity of perennials, with Sacha Inchi and mushrooms as their main productions.

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A brief stay in the Chrysanthemum village

Tongluo : a striking contrast between chrysanthemum monoculture and urban agriculture
10 to 11 December 2019

Two varieties of chrysanthemum, also called florist’s daisy or hardy garden mum.

During my brief stay in Tongluo township, Miaoli county, I took notice of two major elements : the extreme specialization of local farmers in producing mostly one crop, namely chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum x morifolium); and the utilization of urban space for gardening, which contrasted with the chrysanthemum monoculture by their diversity. 

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A diversity of olives

Four species all named olive, and a local recipe
6 to 9 December 2019

Four edible species which fruit is called “olive” in Taiwan.

A common practice in Taiwan is what is called “chan-xiao-ban”, literally a group of production and sells. Farmers cultivating the same crops regroup in this kind of organization to more easily sell their products and have guaranteed price. Indeed, retailer who want to buy large quantity of an agricultural product will have to go through this “chan-xiao-ban” and so cannot directly pressure the farmers to lower their selling price.

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A farmer who doesn’t till

Conservation agriculture in Taiwan
5 December 2019

My first stop in Hsinchu county is at Buliang farm, in Xinfeng township. This farm of around 5 hectares, owned by Jianliang Wu, is quite peculiar because it is the sole large-scale farm in Taiwan (as far as I know) that practises conservation agriculture (CA).

A cover of Sesbania cannabina being rolled over.
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The rise of organic vegetables in Taiwan

A biodynamic farm in Taoyuan
2 to 5 December 2019

Mr. Liu in one of his outside vegetable field. To keep weed growth under control and conserve moisture in the soil, two methods are tested: covering with a reusable plastic tarp, or densely mulching with rice straw (produced at the farm).

Canon Liu began farming organically 3 years ago. His farm, Xiexiemi organic farm, is located in the district of Yangmei, Taoyuan city. He was inspired to organic farming by learning about biodynamic agriculture, a farming system based on esoteric dogma. However, efficiency primes in his farm, and the work schedule is based more on necessity than on astral rhythms.

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Taiwan’s best rice flour

29 November 2019

White rice flour and brown rice flour

In this article, I won’t write about agriculture in its technical aspects, but about what happens after the harvest. Indeed, agroecology is also interested in how farmers with good practices can add value to their products, for agriculture can be sustainable only if it is economically viable for the producer.

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