Project title: Discovering and manufacturing “nature”: “Eco-Friendly” farming in Jinshan
Inspired by Robert Weller’s Discovering Nature: Globalization and Environmental Culture in China and Taiwan.
From 2014 to 2016, the Siberian white crane settled on this farm, and successfully attracted many tourists. She soon became an icon of the place, bringing in social activists and local leaders to Jinshan to start envisioning and engaging in place-making (regional revitalization, 地方創生).
Farmers in Jinshan used to grow rice during Japanese colonialization. After the War, Kuomintang imposed land reform policies to boost industrialization, and economic growth severely impacted agriculture development.
Urban Planner such as the Construction and Planning Agency (營建署) has continually dominated the imagination of Jinshan Township for nearly 40 years. The land where the white cranes settled did not appear in the original urban planning, indicating that this piece of land and its values were invisible.
The arrival of the Siberian white crane has initiated a set of re-imaginations of Jinshan, including the use of Farmland, natural resources discovery, and management. The increasing crowds, along with the growing business in this area opened up a series of conversations and actions regarding land conservation and tourism.
Taiwan Ecological Engineering Foundation (TEEF, 生態工法基金會) introduced the Satoyama Initiative to re-imagine Jinshan’s human-nature interaction in order to construct a symbiotic relationship between local agricultural activities, economic development, conservation, and tourism.
Ba-yien Village (八煙聚落) is the most successful model of Satoyama principle application in the Jinshan District.
The TEEF engineered a Socio-ecological Production Landscape to rebuild the waterway and use natural stones to construct artificial spaces and sceneries for tourism.
The idea is to integrate the natural and artificial components into a landscape to create a “sustainable ground” for both human and nature.
Different opinions and conflicts among the foundation, residents and government regarding Jinshan place-making still emerged over the years.
Residents of Ba-yien accused that new business brought disputes of interest into the village and thus seriously damaged the unity of the place. In addition, the Yangmingshan National Park Headquarters did not support the TEEF plan.
Consequently, boycotts from the residents and national park service become the resistance to TEEF.
In 2016, the year of the departure of the Siberian white crane, a famous social activist, Yang Ru-Men (楊儒門), came under the spotlight to advocate his idea of sustainable agriculture in Jinshan.
Being known as the famous “rice bomber” due to his anti-WTO aggressive protest against the agricultural products importing policy, Yang’s mission in Jinshan is not about conservation tourism, but to fight for the well-being of local farmers who suffered from long-term low-income problems.
Yang and his company gradually became the spokesman for Jinshan’s sustainable development, eventually causing TEEF’s withdrawal from the area.
Yang Ru-men advocated the importance for farmers to control and expand sales channels, along with building direct producer-consumer relationships.
Combining the marketing strategy with his organic agriculture experience, Yang established a small company aiming to develop safe and non-toxic rice products.
Their business includes hosting farmers’ markets to expand sales channels, educating the public on food justice, and creating a platform of consultation and communication between farmers and consumers.
Yang Ru-Men and his company hope that their rice and other crops can sell for better prices by providing an “eco-friendly” label on their products. But the green conservation regulation applies pesticide-free principles to not just the agricultural products but also to the entire environment where the products are grown.
To achieve this goal, Yang partnered with the Bureau of Forestry and joined the Ecology Green Network (國土綠網計畫). This green network advocates the revival of suburban mountains into more organic and friendly environments for wild animals.
"Nature" was discovered through specific perspectives and tools in a series of events
The farmland is imagined by stakeholders who come from different political and economic backgrounds.
Sustainability has gradually evolved from economic growth, being in harmony with surroundings, and environmentally friendly farming into eco-friendly farming.