An urban farm was recently planted right in the heart of downtown Shenzhen, China as part of the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture. The installation, called Landgrab City, is a square plot of land that represents a map of the city and visualizes how much food is required to sustain it.
The urban farm was commissioned by the Shenzhen/Hong Kong Biennale and was created by Joseph Grima, Jeffrey Johnson, and José Esparza to help the city’s residents visualize where their food comes from. The plot, which is subdivided into different crops, is surrounded by a map of one of the city’s dense downtown areas. The plot of land is the same scale as the map and represents the area needed to support 4.5 million people, which is the population of the surrounding area. The cultivated area is subdivided to represent the amount of food consumed from each food group – vegetables, cereals, fruit, pasture for livestock, and more.
The creators are trying to educate the residents about the origin of their food and explain that the area’s food production is not clustered together as it is in the installation. In reality, food production is scattered throughout the country and even beyond its borders. The creators make the point that food scarcity and volatile prices on the international market are pressing concerns, and because of this, vast swathes of land are being “grabbed” for agricultural purposes, hence the name Landgrab City. Agricultural land, they explain, could play larger roles in future international policy and diplomacy than previously recognized.