Residents in Beijing pluck their own vegetables straight from the soil in urban farm plots that have sprung up on the outskirts of the city.
A recent string of food safety scandals have prompted some health-conscious citizens to boycott the markets and grow their own produce by renting their own plots on a local farm.
Like many of the farm’s customers, 42-year-old business manager Jiang Bing makes the one-hour drive out to his urban farm on the weekends, collecting enough vegetables to last his family through the week.
[Jiang Bing, Urban Farmer]:
"To be honest, consuming food that is sold in the city worries me – you never know what they have added. But here at the vegetable garden, we are very clear with the farmer on our requirements on what he can add to our vegetables such as fertilizer or plant food, and he has to have our permission. And our instructions to him are very simple – we just ask that it’s all natural."
Farm owner Liang Ping started offering vegetable plots for rent at the beginning of the year. He charges about $300 a year for each space.
He says business has been good so far.
[Liang Ping, Farm Owner]:
"To date, the business is doing alright – we now have about 100 plots of land rented out. For the customers, their requirements, and the terms and conditions, the response has been pretty good. That’s to say that the business is growing. The rental prices are reasonable as well. We’ve only just started so we can’t charge too much."
Food safety scandals in China have been under scrutiny in recent times.
In May, Chinese state media reported that watermelons in China’s east Jiangsu Province had burst before they ripened after farmers used too much of the chemicals to make the fruits sweeter and crisper.