The Zhangyan Harvests Future Country Living Festival in Shanghai included an exhibition called Urban-Rural that I curated. Here are 82 slides of the event: urbanrural-exhibition-shanghai-november-2019
Below are my ten takeaways.
(Scroll down for Chinese.)

1. We’re in a transition from the oil age to the soil age. The projects in Urban-Rural are signals of what the soil age will be like.

2. Urban and Rural are one place, not two. Streaming platforms that connect farmers directly to the city bring that social connectivity (back) to life.

3. Analogue and digital are also one place, not two. For example, Urban-Rural celebrates digital tools that enable citizen participation in ecological agriculture.

4. A farm is not a factory – it’s a social and ecological system. This is why Urban-Rural puts Shanghai’s BIOfarm centre stage – because it connects such diverse participants and activities. Social diversity and biodiversity help each other.Every city and every bioregion needs such a farm.

5. Making things in Urban-Rural, and leaving the land healthier, are a single process. Atelier Luma’s algae platform – that produces 3d cups out of bioplastics – is about ecology, not just production. Every region needs an algae platfom, too.

6. Sustainable fashion in Urban-Rural is practical, not aspirational. ‘Sustainable’ is when the soil-friendliness of regionally-grown fibre is measured, tested and monitored by everyone involved. That’s it.

7. Small engage with Big in Urban-Rural – and on equal terms. The giant construction company and the biofarmer? The homestay platform and village elder? The e-commerce giant, and chicken breeder? The soil age has arrived: we have much to teach each other.

8. Where we learn, and how, matters almost more than what. Place is our professor in the learning hubs on show.

9. Old knowledge and new tech also appear on equal terms in Urban-Rural. Zhangyan Harvests was created by a Tongji university professor (Lou Yongqi) but the wisdom of elders, in their place, is given proper respect.

10. Ushering in the soil age is the great work of our time. We are privileged to be playing a part.




  1. 我们正处在从石油时代向土地时代向土壤时代过渡的阶段。“城—乡”展中列出的项目都是土壤时代将会有的样子。
  2. 一个地方可以既是城市,也是乡村。APP能使都市人成为业余农民,而流媒体平台能让农民直接对接城市,这些都放大了生活与供给之间的关系。
  3. 一个地方可以既是模拟的,也是数字的。“城—乡”欢迎那些能使市民积极参与到生态农业中去的数字工具。
  4. 农场不是工厂。它是一个社会系统和生态系统。“城—乡”记录了那些将多方参与者和活动连接在一起的农场。每一个生物区都需要一个这样的农场。
  5. 在“城—乡”里制作东西,把土地变得更健康,这些过程都很简单。藻类实验室能用生物塑料生产3D杯子,这关乎生态学,而不仅仅是生产而已。
  6. 在“城—乡”里的可持续时尚都是实际可操作的,不是空口说白话。可持续意味着,本地产纤维的土壤友好程度是可以被每一个参与其中的人测量、测试和监控的。就是这么简单。
  7. 在“城—乡”里,弱者能与强者平起平坐。超大型建筑公司和生物农场主?民宿平台与村庄里的老人?电商巨头和养鸡户?土壤时代已经到来:我们有很多东西要互相学习。
  8. 在哪儿学习,怎么学习,几乎比学什么还要重要。人身处的地方就是所展出的这些学习中心里的教授。
  9. 旧知识与新技术在“城—乡”里也是平起平坐的。章堰丰收由虽由同济大学教授娄永琪牵头,却也融汇了章堰当地老人们基于地方的智慧,他们也获得了同样的尊重。
  10. 将世界导向土壤时代,是我们这个时代的重大工作。我们很荣幸能成为其中一份子。