Creative counter-discourses to the “green city” narrative: practices of small-scale urban agriculture in Hanoi, Vietnam
Abstract: As a central component of the “green city” narrative, urban agriculture is gaining importance in urban planning and global sustainability agendas. In Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam, the “green city” is core to the state’s urbanisation agenda, with a green corridor envisioned as part of the city’s Master Plan for 2030. We investigate the patterns and processes of small-scale urban agriculture underway in this green corridor to better understand whether this type of agriculture actually intersects with, and is supported by, state plans. We frame our paper in conceptual debates around food safety and everyday governance, while supporting our analysis with data from interviews with resident gardeners and officials, as well as the mapping of urban gardens in seven wards in and alongside the green corridor. We pay attention to practices and motivations of residents who maintain small-scale vegetable and fruit plots (the most prevalent form of urban agriculture), and the challenges and constraints they face. Our work reveals the temporary and interim status of urban agriculture in Hanoi, highlighting the contradictions within Vietnam’s “green city” discourse. Nonetheless, urban residents still undertake urban agriculture, negotiating or compromising with state officials, to meet their demands for fresh and safe food.
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