Research Market gardens are traditionally known as farms that are devoted for raising vegetables and berry products. These market gardens (also known as vegetable plots) were generated for business purposes as opposed to vegetable plots produced to feed a farmer’s family. While in the past it does not necessarily mean small-scaled production, market gardens have evolved over the years and till today, these vegetable plots occupy no more than a few acres of land. In recent days, market gardens are structured as small-scaled production of fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and cash crops that are usually sold directly to consumers or local restaurants.
Organizational Structure The diagram below describes a typical hierarchy of parties involved in the market garden industry. In order for market gardens to take place, permission and approval will be required from the land owner and local council. The Ministry of Agriculture will then provide the seeds for planting. During the growing period, the Ministry of Health will monitor the production quality of the production to ensure quality consumption. After the harvesting of crops, the products will be sold to different consumer groups such as restaurants, direct households and grocery stores.
Size Market gardens usually take place within greenhouses or small-farms. Research suggests that it only requires an open space of 12 x 9 metres to produce 246 kilograms of fruits and vegetables. The practice of market gardens is usually monoculture (producing or growing a single crop over a particular area).
Land use and design Before any land development actions can be carried out, there are a design steps that should be taken. The first step is to define the objectives of what is the aimed outcome of the project and the site. A thorough study of the site that looks into the soil condition, drainage system, topography and water is carried out and these findings are catalogued to help improve the pragmatics of the design. The design process will then be carried out, coming up with design alternatives and strategies that tackles and solves issues regarding the site. A precise measurement and mapping of the site is done in order to proceed with the development of an implementation plan and budget. After all planning works are done, facilities structures are built and seeds are planted.
Soil Analysis of soil types, water resources, landforms, geological features, existing species and geological relationships have to be considered. Siting of the market gardens are important as to make sure the production crops are not interfered with debris or elements (i.e. animals and pests) that could affect the quality of the crops. In recent days, these gardens are usually located on the fringes of urban areas where the crops can be easily accessed and distributed to consumers. An extensive soil analysis should be carried out to determine the soil profile. This could highly affect the types of crops that can be grown within the area. Also, the existing topography should be mapped out in order to aid the future placement or planting locations of crops.
Nutrients The main nutrients relevant for market gardens are nitrogen and phosphorus. This can be obtained from either manures or artificially produced fertilizer. According to a research in Western Australia, the amount of phosphorus required for producing a hectare of one single crop is at around 50kg to 120kg, depending on the type of crop. It works the same for multi-crop production but the amount of phosphorus has to be 2 to 2.5 times more (approx. 200kg).
Water and Drainage Clean and consistent water supply is essential to keep the crops hydrated. Farm watershed management includes maintaining the quality of water leaving the farm by keeping nutrients out of streams. The water that leaves the farm with excess nutrient (or even eroded soil) could be a loss to the farm ecosystem and also a pollutant to the environment. Trees, shrubs and other perennials help stabilize stream banks and absorb nutrients before they can leach into the water.
Challenges and Opportunities Food education in terms of land and crop management is one of the outcomes of a market garden industry. Fresh food produce within the local town could satisfy the food needs of the community. This could potentially reduce the energy and cost of transporting food that is grown outside of the town. The human resources needed for market gardens could also generate an increase of employment opportunities.
Urban farming in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City is undergoing a 5-year (2006-2011) planning to switch from traditional low-yield paddy to urban farming that focuses on clean vegetables, flowers, ornamental trees and fishes. During the course of transition, the average revenue from one hectare of land increased to VND 154 million (US$8,100) in 2011, compared to VND 50 million-138 million at the beginning of the programme in 2006.
How In realising the 5-year plan, the city authorities have organised training courses, introducing modern farming techniques to farming families. In addition to that, they have also provided loan aid to these families that could help them upgrade their equipments and land conditions.Farmers have diversified their farming approach by adopting the garden-pond-cage method. With this model, they will be able to grow and produce a combination of vegetables in gardens, breeding fish in ponds and livestock husbandry in cages.
Challenges and Opportunities As a result of this new development, the city now has a production model for urban farming. The idea is to see how this production model can be developed to have improvements to the current system. With the farms producing a stable amount of crops, the farmers will have to look into having a stable outlet to sell their produces. Eco-tourism opportunities are also possible where tourists can enjoy a beautiful green spread of crop-growing. For example in Cu Chi District’s Trung An Commune, an eco-tourism village have been developed as a result of household-owned orchards that created a calm, soothing environment for relaxing.