01/01/2001

The Preservation and Use of Scarce Agricultural Land in Suburban Areas

Masumi Shiraishi 

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Introduction

There are approximately one million kleingartens (small gardens) in Germany which provide publicgreen spaces in urban areas. Most of the land is owned by local governments, who rent plots forapproximately ¥20,000 per year to people without gardens. In Japan, on the other hand, most agriculturalland in urban areas is privately owned, and unless preservation and utilization efforts are quicklyimplemented, these valuable green spaces will be lost to urbanization.

In the past, suburban farms supplied fresh vegetables to cities, and at the same time served as a scarceresource for urban dwellers to experience the changing of seasons and peace of mind. However, withthe aging of farmers and shortage of successors, a severe labor shortage has beset farms, causing farmlandto be abandoned or idled. Meanwhile, more urban dwellers interested in farming as a fulfillingand healthy pastime are seeking volunteer opportunities as farm workers. Thus by dovetailing theneeds of farmers and urban dwellers, farmland can be preserved and utilized, while urban dwellers canenjoy a “life with agriculture.”

This paper examines efforts to preserve and utilize suburban farmland, and notes the issues confrontingthese efforts in the future.

Masumi Shiraishi

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