Miss Hu lives in Dongguan, Guangdong Province. Her balcony is comparatively large and she uses it to grow vegetables. She is happy with her harvest.
"The tomatoes I grow on my balcony are delicious. They taste very different! I've compared them with tomatoes bought from the wet market. The ones I grow by myself have a stronger flavor. What's more, you don't need to spend too much time tending to the balcony vegetable patch. It's convenient. I often invite friends to come over and eat together. There are only 3 people in my family, so we can't eat all the vegetables on our own."
Growing your own vegetables, as Miss Hu does, is not only an attractive option for families, a number of enterprises have also started experimenting with balcony farming. Some enterprises are planning to use the roofs of their factory buildings to grow vegetables and flowers.
Market demand has effectively boosted balcony farming and gardening. Feng Yanquan, an individual who engages in the balcony farming business, says the market potential is huge.
"The factory building occupies one Chinese Mu, or one fifteenth of a hectare. The company can use the roof of the building, which is a big area to plant vegetables, fruits and flowers. This is a big business opportunity in China. The market for using roofs in this way has not been explored. I would say that 99 percent of rooftops haven't been explored."
In some foreign countries, balcony farming and roof gardening enjoy certain subsidies. In Germany, roof gardening and balcony farming is practiced on more than 80 percent of the country's buildings. In America and Japan, the practice is also very popular.
Feng Yanquan adds that China should look to the experiences of these countries.
"In some European countries, as well as many other countries, the roof is a perfect place for gardening. However, in China, most rooftops in the cities are empty. We hope that our products, the flowers and vegetables, will not only reduce the urban heat-island effect which results in major cities, but also lead to better air quality by reducing air pollution and carbon emissions."
However, unlike growing vegetables on arable farm land, efficient watering methods and soil hardening remain unsolved problems for this new urban industry.
For CRI, I am Li Dong.