Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


Taiwan Urban Agriculture

By Robin Turner

[Robin is a University of British Columbia student who is travelling in Taiwan for a few months. He will send us his research material from time to time. (Ed.)]

Also see Page 2 of Robin's Taiwan Journal.

Also see Page 3 of Robin's Taiwan Journal.

Also see Page 4 of Robin's Taiwan Journal.

I arrived in Taiwan, and am living in Hsintien, just outside of Taipei proper.


As you can see, despite the urban chaos, the steep slopes of the area allow for much of the space to be utilized for agriculture. Much of the green space that you can see has some kind of agriculture, whether it be food crops or flowers. This photo is taken from a mountain which has an extensive trail structure that is lined with flowers and plants planted by local residents. In contrast to the "business rules" way of the city core, the mountains represent a public space reserved for anyone, and includes trails, protective huts, exercise equipment, chairs and tables.


Taiwan can get wild very quickly - here we are right on the border of Taipei city.

January 9, 2003

I went out yesterday to a place I knew from living here before. It's another mountain region, 4 subway stops from Hsintien where I live. The reason I went back was I remembered all the agriculture that was going on there.


This is a typical house, as far as houses are typical here - they're not really, mostly it's apartment blocks and high rises. But when you do find houses, they're usually covered in growth of some kind, complete with trees on the roof and potted plants growing out of every crevice.


As space is limited, its not uncommon to see plants lining the streets. Obviously the Taiwanese appreciate a green environment.


Off one small street on a hill in Jingmei is the entrance to this mountain, where seniors come early in the morning to exercise. Its called Buddha's footprint mountain, because it is rumored that Buddha touched down here at one time and left his footprint.


Immediately after entering the mountain, the agriculture starts on both sides of the path.


Tiny plots of land, cordoned off with bits of scrap wood and wire are typical.

raised beds

A quick jaunt off the trail leads to a more organized division of land.


My next mission is to find out what all of this is.


Some interesting trellis work.


Also right along side the hiking trail.


Some more plots, with lots of farming implements lying around in plain view.


The view from the top of the hiking trail.


This little excursion took place in the late afternoon. I have been on this mountain many times in the past, but I seldom see the people who are tending these plots. I eventually did find some old ladies (who declined to have their photos taken) further down the mountain, and they told me that most of the people who farmed here did so for their own consumption, not retail. One lady told me that the government didn't administer these plots of land, they were all privately owned. In her case, a friend owned the land and didn't use it, so she got to farm it and keep the vegetables.

Coming up: I plan to get in touch with the local farmer's association and talk to some individual farmers about specific crops, herbicides/pesticides, selling produce through the farmers market.


Urban Fringe Agriculture
Asian Productivity Organization 2002
Part 3 Country Reports
"Republic of China 1" by Tsan-Ru Chang p. 102
"Republic of China 2" by Ming-Teh Huang p.114

Farmers of Five Continents
Don Paarlberg
University of Nebraska
Press 1984
pages 73-83 "Taiwan: The Part-Time Farmers"

Also see Page 2 of Robin's Taiwan Journal.

Also see Page 3 of Robin's Taiwan Journal.

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Revised May 14, 2003

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture