In rapidly developing economies there is great pressure to replace traditional farmland with repetitive high density residential and supporting commercial development. Layers of the land, its history, stories and cycles are lost forever. By combining advanced agricultural technology with a traditional farming ethic, a new rural fringe economy can be created; one of learning, enjoying and experiencing – all collectively embodied in the Fangshan Wisdom Farm. The benefits of this approach are significant:
- continuation of traditional productive use of land;
- informing current and future generations on global food productivity issues;
- maintaining the open green space of the city edge;
- creating income and local employment from tending market gardens, ‘green food’ sales, indoor cafes and outdoor tent bbq and function catering, together with tourism income from visitors.
Located on the south western edge of Beijing this new farm typology provides a guiding model for sustainable food production, an outdoor museum of productive edible landscapes and a high tech glimpse of the farm of the future.
Led by EADG’s team of international and local Landscape Architects the 40 hectare project features:
- a central complex of greenhouses showcasing advanced hydroponics, crop and fruit production, mushroom incubators, workshop and training studios, a café, children’s school and produce sales;
- extensive new orchard and edible landscape plantings based on local and regional produce: pears, cherries, plums, nut trees, vineyards and herb gardens;
- a radial series of pathways and farm journeys highlighted by an elevated sky walk that frames the new landscape;
- a wildflower discovery walk with competing seasonal color bursts of flowering, dormant and seeding plant species;
- an adventure farm playscape utilizing old farm equipment of tractors and water pumps combined with outdoor picnic, bbq and play areas and a stone and hedge maze;
- an active farmland of market gardens of locally grown fruits and vegetables, together with a new vineyard
- a commitment to low energy, low impact, low cost design through porous gravel paving, locally sourced materials and edible farmed landscape plantings
The project was fast tracked with master planning, detailed design and construction completed mostly within the calendar year of 2015. Now operational with a working staff of over 200 employees spanning advanced farm technicians, guides, instructors and maintenance crews the farm plays host to;
- School groups for weekday visits
- Corporate and international organization including embassies for events and training
- General public for weekend visits, exploring playing and entertainment
- Further extensions to the Farm are being implemented in 2016 and 2017 including additional community farm plots run as a stand-alone enterprise, an agro business park and low rise green belt community housing with the Wisdom Farm at the core of a dynamic new green community.
The Fangshan Wisdom Farm provides the opportunity and inspiration to continue the narrative of rural life, embracing green technology to create greater abundance of food production, while caring for and supporting rural communities offering viable income streams.