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UPDATED: April 17, 2014 NO. 16 APRIL 17, 2014
Agriculture Ambles into Urban Life
The capital's agriculture carnival attracts a multitude of city dwellers
By Yu Yan

LET'S DO FARMING: Three visitors enjoy the experience of pushing the mill at the Second Beijing Agriculture Carnival (JI LINPING)

What tools do farmers use from sowing seeds to harvesting? How does a spinning wheel work? How do you make soya bean milk and toufu? All these questions and more can be answered in the park. Various types of farm tools are on display. Visitors can practice farming activities, including working on the water-mill wheel, and making soya bean milk and toufu.

"This is great fun, especially for those of us who live in the city. Every day, our lives are enveloped by steel and cement. This carnival is a great chance to experience the fun of farming," said Lu.

"Another reason for the popularity of the carnival is its visual design. It combines agricultural elements and art, creating singular displays of melons, vegetables, orchids, strawberries, cereals, and fungi," said Liu.

The orchid venue is a typical example. "I like the orchid venue very much," she said. "The flowers are arranged in different patterns up and down the miniature mountain, along the artificial river, and in the courtyard of the recreated farmhouse. It's like a sea of orchids with white, pink and purple flowers."

Using the orchid as a theme, the venue contains more than 100 orchid species. They are arranged in the shape of waterfalls, tunnels, dancing peacocks and so on, presenting the visitors with fabulous tableaus.

Strawberry feast

The strawberry planting experience zone is a focal part of this carnival. It vividly displays multiple species of strawberries in structures, such as the strawberry tunnel and strawberry forest, and various planting methods involving the use of new types of pots.

"Both my daughter and I love strawberries. Every spring we come to Changping District and pick the fresh fruit in the fields." Lu said the fresh strawberries taste much better than those sold in the supermarket.

Every year during the strawberry season (from October to May of the next year), urbanites flock to the strawberry farms to pick fruit in the greenhouses.

Indeed, Changping District has long been famous for its high-quality strawberries, and the fruit has already become synonymous with the district.

According to local government, there are more than 10,000 strawberry greenhouses in the district, each of which can generate an income of 30,000 yuan ($4,836) to 40,000 yuan ($6,448) every year. Currently, there are more than 3,500 local families who are growing strawberries.

Xing Shuying, who is in her 50s, is one of the strawberry farmers. Living in the Xiying Village of Changping, she started to plant strawberries in 2007, when the local government launched an aid-to-the-poor project.

The couple built two greenhouses, each of which measures 100 meters long and 9 meters wide.

"They cost us 110,000 yuan ($17,732), 20,000 yuan ($3,224) of which was reimbursed by the government. It was good," said Xing. "After the greenhouses were built, the government again helped us by providing a training course, having experts teach us the strawberry planting technologies."

She said the income was very welcome. "For local farmers my age, it is difficult to find a job and work in an urban area," said Xing. "The strawberry planting enables us to stay at home and enjoy a comfortable income."

Email us at: yuyan@bjreview.com

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