Rooftop farming takes off in Hanoi

By    July 21, 2016 | 04:00 am PT
Desperate for poison-free food, Hanoians are taking matters into their own green fingers. 

Tram Anh, a white-collar worker, has a 30 square meter 'farm' on her roof where she grows tomatoes and other vegetables such as cucumbers and sweet bell peppers.

She got the idea last year when a sudden surge in food poisoning cases raised serious public concern. She said it feels safer eating vegetables she has grown herself.

Tram Anh’s small garden can feed her entire family. However, it is more than a food source because farming makes her feel closer to nature, Tram Anh said.

Rampant food poisoning in recent years has made Vietnamese consumers turn to organic produce.

The government has tried to tighten food safety regulations but without much success as statistics show some 300,000 new cases of cancer are recorded each year, many of them reportedly linked to highly toxic additives and pesticides in fruit and vegetables.

In response to the alarming outbreaks, many people in Hanoi have taken organic agriculture to their rooftops and balconies.


Rooftop gardens are blooming in Hanoi. Photo by Hoang Gia Trang from Vietnam Streetlife Photography (Facebook Group).

Ha Thi Phuong, a middle-aged woman living on the outskirts of the city, has spent a small fortune hiring a company to help her create an urban farm on her rooftop where she can cultivate a wide variety of vegetables and even breed fish.

Phuong now grows enough vegetables to feed her entire family and harvests fish from a one cubic meter pond.

Urban residents are increasingly turning to this form of self-sufficient living because it means safe, fresh agricultural produce at much lower costs.


Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Hiep

Le Dinh Hai, who lives in a densely-populated residential building in the center of Hanoi, grows 30 varieties of vegetables in hundreds of foam boxes on a 40 square meter rooftop.

In some high-rise building where residents are not allowed to use the rooftops, they are more than willing to go the (literal) extra mile to rent allotments on the banks of the Red River for about VND2 million ($90) per month.


Photo by VnExpress/Quoc Hiep

Rooftop farms offer other benefits in addition to safe and healthy food. These gardens help create bonds among neighbors who work together to cultivate their crops.

Related news:

Pigs on a roof! Five ways for urbanites to survive dirty food apocalypse in Vietnam

Organic farming takes baby steps to meet growing demand

Agricultural policy key challenge for organic farming in Vietnam

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