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Rooftop gardens add pastoral touch to Beijing (2)

By Liu Lu and Fu Shuangqi (Xinhua)

09:02, May 02, 2013

But Zhang made a breakthrough by developing his own fertilizer recipe. He also consulted vegetable farmers from Beijing's suburbs in order to figure out how to make his garden grow.

Zhang's hard work paid off in his third year of gardening, when he produced a good harvest that surprised both him and his neighbors. Several of his neighbors were even inspired to start their own rooftop vegetable gardens.

Zhang's gardening prowess was subsequently highlighted in the China Central Television documentary "A Bite of China," with film crews visiting his garden to document his efforts.

After an episode featuring Zhang's garden was aired, he began to receive large numbers of visitors clamoring to learn about his techniques.

"People from across the country visited me to learn the 'secret' of growing plants on the roof," Zhang said.

"I had always longed to have a vegetable garden of my own," Zhang said, "I'm very glad that my dream come true and that I was able to inspire others to fulfill theirs."

The Beijing Rooftop Landscaping Association, established in 2006, said the city has 1.3 million square meters of "green roofing," with some of the area employed for growing produce and other areas that serve purely ornamental purposes.

"The majority of people still have doubts about the feasibility of rooftop landscaping," said Tan Tianying, head of the association.

Although rooftop landscaping could serve to reduce some of the city's oppressive smog, the government has yet to recognize it as a pollution countermeasure, Tan said.

There are also safety worries, as some are concerned about potential water leaks.

"Examples such as Zhang's garden are very good for opening people's minds and improving awareness," Tan said.

The association is working to provide technical training for people who are interested in rooftop gardening and drafting regulations that can promote the hobby, Tan said, adding that he hopes the government will offer more financial support.

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