Lin Chen was born in 1976 in Hanzhong City, Shaanxi Province. The culinary habits—eating rice rather than noodles, spicy skewers rather than paomo (a kind of bread similar to pita)—and lifestyle of Hanzhong people are closer to that of Sichuan than Shaanxi Province. Therefore, Lin is also a mixed-blood of Shaanxi’s toughness and Sichuan’s gentleness. If there is one word that sums up his character more precisely, that is “fastidious”, which coincides with his zodiac sign: Virgo. So, what it is like to be a “virgo farmer”?
Chen Lin, male, born in 1976, is from Hanzhong, Shaanxi Province.
By the way, he is a Virgo farmer.
If it's hard to imagine a Virgo farmer, you'll want to see it in the end.
The culinary habits—eating rice rather than noodles, spicy skewers rather than paomo (a kind of bread similar to pita)—and lifestyle of Hanzhong people are closer to that of Sichuan than Shaanxi Province. Therefore, Lin is also a mixed-blood of Shaanxi’s toughness and Sichuan’s gentleness.
In 2012, at a time when food safety issues were escalating in China, Lin Chen came back to his home country at the news that Leping and Daichi wo Mamoru Kai were going to build an agricultural production base together.
He engaged in farming using agroecology principles, without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He put much time and effort into gaining more knowledge about ecological farming technologies.
At the beginning of 2013, the cooperation of Leping and Daichi wo Mamoru Kai settled down, and they jointly put forward the concept of ecological trust agriculture, that is, ecological agriculture as the principle of agricultural production, and all the agricultural operations in the process of crop growth are recorded and made public, in order to acquire the trust of consumers. Based on the concept of ecological trust agriculture, Tianjin Zhongyuan Farm emerged as the times require. Lin Chen naturally joined the farm.
“I had never expected it would be so difficult.” Determined not to be over optimistic, Lin was still struck by harsh reality when he first set foot on the farm. Zhongyuan Farm is located at the Jinghai District in the metropolis of Tianjin. It's an industrial area with saline-alkali soil, hard, glistening and barren. Wheat farmers and corn farmers came and gone, just like the occasional birds across the sky, and the bullet trains on Beijing-Shanghai railway roared past, without leaving a trace.
“Let’s take a leap of faith on this barren land and see how hard it can be. If we can make it here, we can make it anywhere.”
He stood true to his words in the past three years and successfully grew safe vegetables with zero chemical fertilizer and pesticide using ecological technologies, while improving the local environment at the same time. The farm deployed a comprehensive system of physical, chemical and biological measures to prevent pest and disease damage and ensure output, and by using organic bacterial manure and compost, it improved soil quality. Vitality came back to the land: earthworms, insects and birds are the best testimony.
Nobody can stop you from succeeding.
Reporters from Tianjin TV Station, teachers from Tianjin Agricultural University and experts from Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences came following the success of Zhongyuan Farm. The teachers and experts were not here for appraisal, but to cooperate and learn from Zhongyuan with their advanced farming techniques.
“In the past three years, using biological pest and disease control, organic bacterial manure and compost rather than pesticides and chemical fertilizers, we managed to produce safe vegetables and improve soil quality. We can offer a neatly written notebook from a stack of them on the bookshelf, which record everyday farming activity and treatment. We allow some mild pests and diseases, as long as they don't compromise the output and quality. Although ecological farming doesn’t provide quick solutions, it builds a good ecosystem that allows nature and ecological chains to cure minor diseases and fend off pests. ”
He repeated these words again and again to pupils, Japanese students, consumers and R&D specialists who visited the farm. In the past three years, colleagues and interns came and went, he still adhered to this exact principle.
For three years, that was the principle he insisted on.
In three years, colleagues changed, but he was still here.
“Working here at the base is hard, which I know better than anyone else. So you have the freedom to do what you want, like conducting an experiment or try a new variety of plant, as long as you don’t violate the principle. If you success, then you’ll have the reward, but if you fail, I will take the responsibility for it.”
For three years, whether the fellow students who stayed on the farm or the companions who left the farm, were simply tied together by the bond of Zhongyuan Farm. Two couples found their happiness here. Zhongyuan Farm is not only a demonstration base that fosters the transformation of agricultural production that is sustainable both environmentally and economically, but also a cradle for young people with brand new understanding of agriculture, and facilitate them to achieve long-term goals.
Perhaps, I guess, Lin shifted his hopes from his son, who lives in his hometown and is about to take the college entrance exam, to the children on the farm. In a sense, he is a good teacher and a good friend, but not a qualified father.
"If I go back to my hometown and find a job, I'll be better than I am now. I'm going home to spend the holidays with my son. I know he's under a lot of study pressure and I'm taking him out to play. Now I still have a chance to go with him, and he's willing to let me go. A few more years later, he won't, and I won't have a chance."
Lin doesn’t have high aspirations, nor does he talk about big dreams. What he admits and is proud of, though, is that today’s Zhongyuan Farm was built by him and colleagues on saline-alkali soil step by step.
This is Lin Chen, a
mixed-blood of Shaanxi’s toughness and Sichuan’s gentleness.
A professional postgraduate majoring in Rural Development, Jiangnan University
Encounter with Eco-trust Agriculture
As an undergraduate student who has studied agricultural and forestry economic management for four years, I had an idea of practicing as early as in school. I try to write business plans and project feasibility studies, but I realized that I am not Ma Liang who is a talent in painting .
You can wear out iron shoes in fruitless searching, and yet by a lucky chance you may find the lost thing without even looking for it. In the spring of 2018, I passed the re-examination of master's degree students majoring in rural development in Jiangnan University, and then I stay at home a half year. Later, it was so boring that I registered my resume on the job-hunting software, and then I randomly send my resume to well-known or unknown enterprises in various industries.
On May 28, I received an interview notice from the Eco-trust Agricultural College. The main idea of the call was to accept me as a student and ask me to register in a farm in Jinghai, Tianjin. The case of Li Wenxing associated with pyramid selling, so I worried that I will be cheated. However, considering the usual practice of pyramid marketing organization's "high salary temptation", it is reassuring that this program has no salary.
But it wasn't the psychological hints of or the gimmicks of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Tianjin Agricultural College that made me make a decision. It was a shocking public tweet - " From an innocent student to a strong Farmer, It only took a study cycle". With the mentality of participating in a weight-loss training camp, I traveled south alone by train. Arriving at Jingbai Supermarket, Juzhuangzi Village, Jinghai, Tianjin, some people came to pick me up with a small car, which is said to be the highest specification for farm graduates.
The day we arrived at the farm was the Dragon Boat Festival on the 5th day of May in the lunar calendar. I thought there would always be an adaptation period, we could relax ourselves and do whatever we like. As a result, my assumption is correct, but we had to pick vegetables and make them by ourselves. I was so tired that don’t care anything. We had a very busy but worthful day.
Life on the farm is quiet and full. In the first few days, when the sun rises I get on, and when the sun sets I sleep. I put all my strength in the farm work without thinking about anything else. Sometimes I can’t understand the accent of the aunts who work with me. So when they talk to me, I smile to them and then do my work.
Cao Xueqin said that all things are worth learning. Despite simple farming works contains the long-term work experience and profound philosophy of life accumulated by the working people. Just in a few days of production practice I deeply aware that I made a metaphysical mistake in my school study. I used to think that agricultural production is similar to industrial production. Cultivation, weeding and medicine are processes of mechanized production of agricultural products from planting to harvesting. At that time, in my opinion, agricultural products are also the same as industrial products, both are produced after a series of production procedures and eventually put into the market.
Through the observation and study in farms, I understand that agricultural products are alive, and agricultural production is a process of life care. In this process, producers must be very careful to make agricultural products thrive, blossom and bear fruit, and eventually become commodities of the market. This process must be worthy for our own conscience and consumers. Perhaps this is the difference between organic agriculture and conventional agriculture, we regard crops as living organisms rather than production machines, so we use the way of life care rather than the way of maintaining machines to engage in agricultural production, finally crops will be rich and full, rather than dry and poor to give back to us.
On June 25, my brother and I went to Beijing to participate in the logistics guidance of Japanese experts. In Beijing, we visited the company's refrigerators and headquarters successively. We saw that the vegetables we picked by ourselves were quickly and accurately picked, packed and boxed by professionals in the company's refrigerators. For a moment, it felt like my daughter is dressed up in her wedding dress and waiting to be picked up by the welcoming procession. My mood was complex. I was glad that they are finally going to the market after the devastation. Meanwhile, I was sorry that the vegetables I had bred were picked mercilessly. With the conscience of being responsible for consumers, I can't prevent vegetables from being picked, but I would like to say that those vegetables that are eliminated because of bad taste are also excellent vegetables that are carefully cultivated.
Peasants are always busy in May. We can’t bear the heat of the farm in June. When Mr. Wang went out in the afternoon, he always took drugs to prevent from illness. On the evening of June 29, I got on the train for the graduation ceremony. I lay on the upper berth and looked at the ceiling on the top of the carriage with my eyes open. I looked back everything of ten days since I came to the farm. When the light of the train went out, I closed my eyes and promised in my heart, "See you in July, Zhongyuan".
Take two days off to attend the graduation ceremony. It takes two nights just by train. Staying two days and one night at home, after drinking and playing mahjong for a while, I separated from my classmates. I returned to the farm on the morning of July 2 with a pack of Northeast specialties. After getting used to farm life, the days passed quickly. When I realized my holiday was usual, I desired to learn to manage a shed of vegetables.
On June 23, Chao and I operated the seeder and planted the seeds of seven different vegetables. In the afternoon, we irrigated them and after about two or three days, the land in the greenhouse was full of greenness, except for the western ridges, which seemed bare from a distance but when approaching, we saw a dark red thin line, squatting down to observe carefully, we found that it is amaranth buds.
When the buds grow up, some diseases, will emerge. The necessary weeding and seedling thinning are needed for the control of weeds. The so-called thinning is to pull out the surplus seedlings from the ridges, so as to keep a certain distance between the seedlings and seedlings to ensure that the seedlings can fully absorb nutrients and then grow vigorously.
In order to control pest, we mainly use some biological pesticides from plant and microorganism. Take the pest control in In order to control pest, we mainly use some biological pesticides from plant and microorganism. Take the pest control in the first row of the second greenhouses on July 10 as an example, the previous day, we found that the pests, such as two-tipped insects, grasshoppers and beet armyworm larvae, etc. Some plant leaves were seriously damaged. Pesticides were used: matrine 750 times, Azadirachtin 750 times, BT750 times, cotton bollworm nuclear polyhedrosis virus 750 times, and medication 2. 5 barrels.
Because of the slow effect of biological pesticides and inadequate observation, it was found that although the situation of insect pests had been controlled to a certain extent by the harvest eve, there was no particularly significant effect.
Speak of the prevention and cure of the disease, the growing period of the first row in the second greenhouses is short, there is no obvious disease, so we take the third row in the fourth greenhouses as an example, the diseases such as dry burning caused by calcium and manganese deficiency can be controlled by harvesting vegetables before the disease emerges. In addition, intertillage is required one to two days after each irrigation in order to loosen the soil to prevent soil compaction.
Because of limited ability, I can understand that is probably the above. As of July 15, the vegetables I planted had been harvested for the first time. Although the management of vegetables has not yet finished, it is perfect experience.
The practice on the farm is about to end. Counting lumps bit by mosquitoes on my wrists, looking back on the past one month, although hard, it is really the first time I witness the growth process of organic agriculture. More importantly, only when I come here can I know how avilable food grows out of the land. As a farmer, I understand the true meaning of no work, no food. The hard work of agricultural producers, supports the needs of the city.
Finally, I would like to thank the Eco-trust Agricultural College for giving me a rear opportunity to study, and making unforgettable memory for life.
From Sun Zenan,
Summer student of Eco-trust Agricultural College
My name is Yuan Zhijun, a farmer boy who was born in 1994. I studied vegetable cultivation and management in the College of Eco-trust Agriculture.
After experiencing three stories I have an affinity with agriculture.
When I was in junior high school, a biology teacher often talked about Yuan Longping in class. He said that the hybrid rice Yuan studied makes many people have enough food and made a great contribution to Chinese agriculture. He hoped us to become a great man like Yuan Longping in the future and make our own contribution to Chinese agriculture. I was born in the countryside, and my parents are farmers. So I learn about the sufferings of farmers well. At that time, the wish that I want to be the second "Yuan Longping" was produced in my heart.
When I was in college, I followed my teacher to study soil testing, and did some experiments in fields, such as planting rice and rapeseed crops which are used to test the effects of different fertility soil on crops. I contacted with agriculture the first time in my college. There are shovels, hoes and other farming tools in the laboratory. With the help of these tools, we worked the land on an abandoned hillside of our school, built a simple greenhouse and built a small vegetable garden. In the process of planting vegetables, I had a growing interest in observing the germination, growth, flowering, and results, feeling these are very happy. Agriculture has slowly guided my life.
In January, 2016, I came to Zhongyuan Farm, the Eco-trust Agricultural College, on the recommendation of my school elder sister. I originally thought that the greenhouse for vegetable planting in winter is kept warm by pulling the curtain artificially. However, after I worked in the farm, I saw the mechanized greenhouse which can automatically lift the quilt and the gravity drip irrigation system in the greenhouse. Everything here is full of curiosity for me.
I learned some knowledge of organic vegetable just from my book when I was a student. I don’t understand what is organic vegetable until I came to farm. “organic” means using the principles of ecology to grow vegetables, and using physical control, natural enemy control and other pest control methods to reduce the use of chemical pesticides.
One thing is persistence. From 2012 to now, we had been recording detailed information including planting, pests, diseases and the use of inputs and so on, in every greenhouse and every period. From the beginning of using chemical fertilizer to the present zero fertilizer input, vegetable can also be produced normally. We mad great achievements in the efforts of experts, teachers and all members in Zhongyuan. For example, the vegetables grow normally without chemical fertilizer, a comprehensive pest prevention and control system alters pesticides as the main method of pest prevention and control.
In the companion of a group of lovely people, I insist on my dream. I learned a lot about vegetable planting technology and practical experience from the teachers and colleagues of the farm. The teachers and experts of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences taught me the most advanced methods of ecological pest control in China. They are not only colleagues, teachers, but also good friends who can be mingled with me in mind.
I am deeply impressed by Mr. Kawabata, a Japanese expert. The company cooperates with Daichi wo Mamoru Kai, and Mr. Kawabata comes to the farm for guidance every year. I admire the 60-year-old gentleman’s spirit of agriculture. His knees always on the ground in guidance. He carefully observed the growth of vegetables. If vegetables have diseases or grow poorly, he will analyze the causes from the comprehensive aspects of environment, greenhouse facilities, soil fertility and so on. I admire him because not only his rich knowledge of theory and practice, but also his earnest and persistent spirit towards agriculture. I promise to myself that in my whole lifetime, I will not only be a good peasant, but also do a good job in agriculture with the spirit of a craftsman
The abuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture not only pollutes the environment, but also causes unprecedented distrust among producers and consumers. However, the problem is not just the producer. Fortunately, more and more farmers are using their own ways to change the traditional agricultural production mode dominated by chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Although there will be too many difficulties along the way, I believe that we will keep on forward.
Yuan Longping said, "I had a dream that rice was as high as sorghum, ears were as long as broomsticks, grains were as big as peanuts. Several friends sat under the ears to enjoy the cool, and no one was worried about food shortage." I also have an agricultural dream. I hope more people to engage in agriculture and eat safe vegetables. I also hope that I have a farm in a valley, and live a happy and peaceful life with my lover.
When I returned home on New Year's Day, my father told me that don't tell people that you are a vegetable grower when you go to a neighbor's house to play, or you will be laughed at by others. I can understand my father's ideas. "Peasants" may be a symbol of identity, a synonym for vulgarity, poverty and pity. But I believe that in the future, "peasants" will become a real profession in China, an equal profession. My net name is "the peasant who writes poems". I regard "writing poems" as an attitude of life. I regard "peasants" as my profession. No matter what kind of work I do in the future, I can go to a poetic life.
April in Zhongyuan is
the time when apricot blossoms and full of fragrance. I look forward to
enjoying the beautiful scenic with you in Zhongyuan.
I hurry off the bus that brought me from Beijing to Toubaihu Village in Hebei Province. The purpose of my journey is to discuss agriculture with Pengfei Cheng, who’s already been waiting in the station for an hour.
Our conversation starts with popular music in the past two decades rather than agriculture. From Tsai Chin to Jay Chou, we fervently exchanged ideas, just like two young music fans. Pengfei, this “hippie“ born in 1968, at similar age of my father, shares his songs with me. It is to this musical backdrop that we step into the land that has brought him so much joy…and so much sorrow
Pengfei was born in Toubaihu Village in 1968. Unlike most families in the area, Pengfei’s was not involved in agriculture. Instead, his parents worked for the county. He began his career as a civil servant, and in 1998 took on a sustainable livelihood project with Action Aid, an international NGO. The project represented Pengfei’s first foray into agriculture, and he would continue this work for the next 13 years.
When the project ended in 2010, Pengfei was at a crossroads. Inspired by the NGO operation model, he resigned from his job, and, together with several farmers and local officials, founded Yidunqing Rural Community Development Promotion Society. As an NGO, it would promote local education, women’s rights and sustainable livelihoods. Unfortunately, internal conflicts kept it from ever getting off the ground. The locals had a saying, “The sky takes half of the crop, and the land takes the other half, the left is farmers.” Since it’s hard to work with people, he started to work with “sky and land” on agriculture. In 2011, Pengfei founded Yidunqing Farm to promote sustainable farming and biodynamic agriculture. Refusing to use pesticides and chemical fertilizers, he wanted to show area farmers that it was possible to maintain a sustainable livelihood.
His ideal was nice, but the reality was harsh. He took several hard blows. Once again, the people he trusted let him down. Because of his limited background in agriculture, he had hired an experienced farm manager. In 2013, he discovered that the manager was embezzling funds, so Pengfei took over the daily operation of the farm. He would no longer have time to indulge in the joy singing.
“Attempt” was the keyword for his operation of the farm. Not having a traditional farming background or cases could be followed, Pengfei relied heavily on trial and error. Eventually, he discovered a promising new grain crop: quinoa. It was well suited for both the local growing conditions and the marketplace. Moreover, his cooperation with the Beijing Fuping Chuangyuan Agricultural Technology Development Company gave him access to the Beijing market. Success quickly followed, but Cheng knew “deeds are better than words”. Thus he was helping other farmers solve part of the distribution problem, and leading farmers to pass the fertilizer residue test of Fuping Chuangyuan By the end of 2015, the average annual income of local farmers had increased from 20,000 RMB to 100,000 RMB.
Despite Pengfei’s success, he had his share of detractors. Because quinoa resembles a local weed, some mocked him for cultivating a seemingly worthless crop. Others felt that his success was political—that as a former civil servant he’d received special government support. Ignoring these rumors, Pengfei persisted in operating Yidunqing Farm with the farmers who trust him during the past three years. There had been conflicts, but he persisted and received results. More and more farmers followed his ecological approach of planting. Once in an "organic farmer market" visit, He organized a trip to Beijing for local farmers who had never been to the capital, explaining, “I want farmers to know that as long as the food they grow is safe, people will buy it. And I want city people to appreciate just how difficult it is to grow food safely.”
“I grew up in the county and I like NGOs and identify with their meaning. Like them, I want to help the farmers around me. I’ve hit some bumps in the road,” he says without regret, “I’ve been tricked, been laughed at. But I will continue to promote my model and try to build a sustainable agriculture base in every poor county in China. I will invite the farmers to learn, and I will show them how to enrich their lives.
All my customers trust me a lot. I share what I’m doing on WeChat, showing people that I don’t use chemical pesticides or fertilizers. I provide them with truly safe and tasty food. I believe if there is one industry that can preserve life-long customers, it must be agriculture. As long as I earn their trust, they will buy from me, and their kids will do the same.
My 12-year old son told me: dad, I won’t be a farmer like you, because I like English and I will continue to study it, but you make me proud.” A familiar smile appeared in Pengfei’s face, but soon faded into the deep wrinkles.