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. 

Florist’s daisy monoculture

These two elements are common in Taiwan, but they were obvious in Tongluo, a midly populated countryside, quite far from any major city (but close to the small city of Miaoli), with a focus on the agricultural and industrial sector, and a slow conversion to the tourism sector.

Florist’s daisy monoculture on plastic tarp.

Agricultural specialization allows the farmers to easily produce and harvest, as all the specialized seeds, material, fertilizer, pesticides, machinery… are easily available. There are also many “chan-xiao-ban” to help them valorize and sell their crops : in Tongluo many shops try to attract tourists and sell chrysanthemum tea, chrysanthemum perfumed desserts, chrysanthemum soaps… And all over Taiwan, most of chrysanthemum produces come from Tongluo. However, from the point of view of the local ecosystem and of food resilience, this kind of practice is a disaster, as the landscape diversity is reduced to one species, and there is not even an acre devoted to food crop.

Chrysanthemum tea and chrysanthemum and sesame biscuit.

The practice of urban farming, traditional in Taiwan and still blatant in many “old” towns, balances a bit the monocultures by bringing some fresh food directly to the inhabitants, and adding a bit of green in these towns otherwise deprived of vegetation. One can notice how the density and diversity of cultivated plants are higher in this system, in order to use all of the available space.

Example of urban farming : aloe, sweet potato leaves, turmeric, papaya…

Example of urban farming : lettuces, sweet potato leaves, ornamental plants…

Example of urban farming : lettuces, chinese chives, cabbages, papaya, corn and many others…

Example of urban farming : a few market gardening rows stuck between two buildings…

View on Tongluo

Chrysanthemum flowers forming the shape of Taiwan

See you soon for more agroecology !

Author: Yali

I am Alex, a French graduate from the agronomy school AgroParisTech, which also spent a few years in Taiwan. Passionate about gardening, farming, plants, insects and other. I made this website to share thoughts, experience, innovations and studies about agriculture, from the viewpoint of agro-ecology.

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