Last week I went back home to Beijing to visit my parents. To my surprise, I came home to discover they’ve become obsessed with a new hobby: urban agriculture. Yes, they’re farming, renting a piece of farm land with a couple of friends. Together, they’ve laid out vegetable plots to tend. They’re already on their second round of harvesting!
“Escape the cities, harvest the days,” said my father.
They’ve come to enjoy the labor, tying up luffa stems and watering their pepper plants, even though they need to drive almost an hour every other day to get out of the huge city.
“It is a trend! You know our friend…she and her family spent millions and bought a big house on the perimeter of the city so that they could farm their own land!” explained my mom, trying to convince me they were not alone in this unexpected urge to grow things.
To show them my support I told my parents that landscape architects are vocal proponents of community gardens, edible gardens, and other outdoor spaces set aside to allow plants to grow.
“Those ‘modernized’ Americans like artisan farming?!” exclaimed my dad, doubtful about the idea of affluent and modern Americans returning to the land.
But whatever thoughts he had about this idea of rural pursuits was soon eclipsed by his desire to disappear back into the “jungle” of their garden. Soon, I could only hear his voice from somewhere behind a curtain of cucumbers plants.
“This cures the ‘urban disease’!”