Urban Farming: Part Two

When it comes to auto-ethnography and, in this case, its application to urban farming and food sustainability, Ellis et. al explain the importance of examining research from within one’s personal cultural framework. They argue that “auto-ethnographers… must use personal experience to illustrate facets of cultural experience, and, in so doing, make characteristics of a culture familiar for insiders and outsiders.”

My initial interest in urban farming stems from my work with Hidden Harvest, a local not for profit based in the Illawarra region which works a lot with reducing food waste. Whilst urban farming has not necessarily been a central focus of the work I have done with Hidden Harvest, the demographic of people and places who are associated with this topic has opened my eyes to the potential of this activity and it’s prevalent role in addressing food security. As Salim et. al. explain, “urban farming or urban agriculture refers to the farming activities in urban areas, which are commonly used for income or food. It contributes to food security, food safety and improve the quality of the environment and greening the country, especially the urban area” (2019).

“Rooftop Farming: How urbanites are making a healthy transition towards homegrown food”(Poddar, 2019)

In this instance, I have used my own cultural upbringing as a way to examine the practice of urban farming from an inherently rural standpoint Growing up in an agricultural environment, I’ve had quite a great deal of experience with farming itself, so for this project I believe it will be interesting to investigate the way the farming practices which I am well accustomed to may be adapted to suit the urban setting.

As Yeung argues, this is particularly important when investigating the imminent future of Asia. He writes:

“In Asia, where most of the urban growth has concentrated in metropolitan areas, the problem of food availability and access is becoming more acute. In these urban centres, uneven distribution of incomes, the prevalence of poverty, diminishing farmlands, inefficient distribution systems, and rising expectations have all contributed to increasingly critical problems of food supply and distribution, particularly as they affect the urban poor”.

Applying my own personal cultural framework to this study must also involve adapting my knowledge and skills through experimentation and active participation in urban farming. In order to fully understand how urban farming may operate in areas of high density and minimal space (two characteristics which I am not particularly familiar with in terms of traditional farming), I will be challenged to evolve my practice. Ellis et. al. argue that we must become “participant observers” in the culture, “that is, by taking field notes of cultural happenings as well as their part in and others’ engagement with these happenings”.

As such, my group members and I will be setting up our own version of an urban vertical farm on one of our balconies as a way of trialling this idea and becoming “participant observers”. This will look similar to the one depicted in the video below:

Obviously, we would be unable to construct something like this in an Asian setting in order to truly examine this practice in relation to our research, but it is hoped that a similar recreation may give us deeper insight throughout the auto-ethnographic process.


Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

Salim, Siti & Alaa, Musaab & Yusof, Zawiyah & Ibharim, Laili & Salim, Siti & Hashim, Fazian. (2019). Urban Farming Activities in Southeast Asia: A Review and Future Research Direction. MATEC Web of Conferences. 266. 02010. 10.1051/matecconf/201926602010.

Yeung, Y, ‘Examples of urban agriculture in Asia’, United Nations University, online article, accessed 15 September 2019, available at <http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/food/8F092e/8F092E05.htm>

Published by susiealdermann

Fifth Year Bachelor of Communications and Media/ Bachelor of International Studies (Dean's Scholar) student

3 thoughts on “Urban Farming: Part Two

  1. Hey Susie!

    Nice one! Super interesting points made about Urban Farming. Coming from a farm myself, I can relate to what you’ve discussed. As this is a topic that I previously had very limited views on, it is great to gain some insight. Have you looked into this in relation to Australia? I found a great website you may be able to use (https://www.urbanagriculture.org.au) to do a comparison.
    This website may also come in handy, it discusses urban faming in both Australia and Asia http://www.cityfarmer.org/subSEasia.html

    Can’t wait to see the final product!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Susie,

    I found your post really interesting and your integration of the Ellis article was really well done. However, I thought I should bring your attention to the fact that your Hidden Harvest link is currently broken and doesn’t currently link to the not-for-profit’s WordPress page.

    I think it might be interesting to see in your future experiment any limitations you might put in place. For instance limitations in light availability, types of water, types of soil, fertiliser, and or space available to use for farming.

    I thought it might also be interesting for you to look into some community farms. They’re great resources for information and/or farming for people who don’t have the space to grow their own produce in our area. Heres a link for the one in Dapto: https://communitygardening.wixsite.com/daptocommunityfarm
    It might also be interesting to see if there are any community farms available for use within Asia, and if so, it could be used as another point of autoethnographic participation.

    Overall, I found your article interesting and enjoyable to read however I would have loved to have also seen a more in-depth description of your cultural background integrated within the post to contextualise it a little bit more.

    Good luck with the rest of your semester!


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