As cities densify, areas available for agriculture within the city become increasingly small and infeasible for mass production. In parallel, many cities have seen a rapid rise in establishing community-based micro-farming, operating within marginal spaces of uncertain ownership or regulations. Prominently in Hong Kong, more than 60 urban rooftop farms have spontaneously appeared in the last 10 years on buildings. High application rates for renting plots in these informal farms suggest a strong demand in the population. Motivations cited by participants of rooftop farms are typically social, although social values have yet to be specifically defined or objectively measured. Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government’s new agricultural policy conceives urban agriculture as a commercially productive practice. In consequence, urban rooftop farming lies awkwardly between formal city planning and informal community practices. A study of five rooftop farms in Hong Kong found, through participant opinion surveys and cost-benefit analysis, that the social benefits to participants were multifaceted with a preference on personal socialization and that they were willing to pay for the experience. The results suggest that if the products of rooftop farming could be conceived as being social, rather than food production, individual motivations and state interests could be aligned and the available roof space activated to achieve a more sustainable city.
Part of the book: Agricultural Economics