Urban Pocket Farm

Built along natural farming principals, we transform an empty urban lot into a natural garden based on empathy with all living things, including the weeds, bugs, and all of the life that enters the space. This empathy is woven into a series of arts and environment workshops, and eventually carried into the community by those who visit the garden.

Images from the 'compassion garden' part of our REALtimeFOOD community project in Osaka, Japan (Images by SocieCity)
Images from the Pocket Farm ’empathy garden’ part of our REALtimeFOOD community project in Osaka, Japan (Images by SocieCity)

Project Overview

A component of our REALtimeFOOD project, the Pocket Farm is a base camp for learning and bringing empathy to the life of a neighborhood. The first Pocket Farm was built in an under-served urban area in the Kitakagaya neighborhood of Osaka, Japan.

But these are not just tiny farms, they are expressions of a mindset where humans and nature are partners. In the spirit of Japan’s Natural Farming movement, we build and maintain community gardens in harmony with weeds, bugs, and all life which would naturally occur in an empty lot during the growing season. Rather than drawing up a rigid design or development principals, the process is one of watching, listening, cultivating a relationship with the space and its inhabitants, and responding to that relationship with empathy.

The result, is a simultaneous re-wilding of the urban landscape, while also enabling the growing of regionally appropriate herbs and foods.

As well as being a basis for the garden, empathy is woven into all of the events which take place in these gardens as well. To bring this idea of relationships and compassion into the community, we host a series of open arts and environment workshops in the gardens.

Vegetables and herbs grown in the garden are used for a community dinner at our REALtimeFOOD restaurant, and extra produce and flowers are donated every few days to restaurants, shops, and homes in the neighborhood.

Project Team and Partners

Conceived and built by Patrick Lydon and Suhee Kang.

Supported in part by a grant from Chishima Foundation for Creative Osaka with additional support from  Isao Suizu (Aichi University of the Arts),  Air Osaka Hostel, Co.To.Hanna / Minna Nouen, Lateral Lab

Project coordination in Japan by Ikumasa Hayashi, Yasutaka Kaneda, Emi Ogata, Kaori Tsuji