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Agriculture in Cities: An Aspect of Science and Civilization in China

Zeng Xiongsheng (CAS, Beijing)

On the fourth day of the fourth lunar month in the year of 1861, Zeng Guofan, the high rank official of Qing dynasty, wrote to his son Zeng Jize and asked him to hire one or two gardeners from the capital city of province to his home to grow vegetable. Although his brother opposed his proposal, his decision remained the same. Some truth is hid behind this home affair. More than three hundred years ago, when Wang Zhen, the agriculturist of the Yuan Dynasty, promoted the agricultural techniques in Jin De county, where the people said, farming is our conventional duty, we have done it for generations, and do not need you to teach us. Unlike the Jin De people, Zeng Guofan who was born in a farmhouse that regarded vegetable growing as one method of managing family affairs since his grandfather, determined to have vegetable growers at high pay. Why?

It is commonly accepted cities with streets, buildings, walls and moats etc., rule out the farming. Nevertheless, China is a large agricultural country, and agriculture embeds every corner of this country. How was the situation of agriculture in cities? And what role the cities played in the development of agriculture in China? These are the main questions that will be concerned in this paper.

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