Our little 2000 m² global field project in Berlin is growing bigger. Recently there was a 2000 m² project set up in China. There is on average 1000 m² of available arable land there per farmer and it needs to grow anything that can be consumed by the farmer and their family or otherwise can be sold at market. We have found three farmers, Xingmei Long, Ianhua Zhang and Shaolan Zhang, who have volunteered a piece of the their land to demonstrate the global field idea.
All three farmers live in Heinigou, a village near Kunming, Southern China. Each farmer provides for their families by themselves. While all the farmers grow maize, Xingmei Long grows a regional type of potato, Ianhua Zhang also grows various types of cabbage and turnips and lastly, Shaolan Zhang produces tobacco as well. They all breed pigs and chickens and all the animals are free to roam around. In the past farmers had cultivated mostly rice in these parts of China, but due to frequent droughts they have switched to other more reliable crops. Xingmei Long, Ianhua Zhang and Shaolan Zhang allowed me to visit them and accompany them whilst they worked on their fields.
Xingmei Long, Ianhua Zhang and Shaolan Zhang recently took their produce to the first Farmer’s Market in the 8 million people city of Kunming. The market allows ecological farmers to sell their products as the demand for organic food is steadily increasing in China’s major cities. Since they do not use pesticides or artificial fertilizers the farmers are able to sell their products at a higher price. Despite this, there is no credible organic certification in China yet. China’s growing urban middle-classes are beginning to travel to the countryside to visit farmers and gain a better understanding of where their food comes from.
After the families and animals have been fed not much remains from the harvest to sell, therefore, our three farmers also participant in the Eco-Women Project. The project supports rural women not only in their transition to a more ecological agriculture, but they also promote the production and sale of traditional handicrafts. The finished products can be sold at the market, and now on the Internet as well, to supplement their incomes. Traditionally in in rural China, women are primarily responsible for the maintenance of the fields, parenting and financial management but have little access to higher education. The EcoWomen project supports women in rural regions through education and training. Xingmei Long is responsible for the project in Heinigou.
Xingmei Long, Ianhua Zhang and Shaolan Zhang are very busy women with exciting stories about their work. Over the next year they will keep us updated on their 2000 m² global field. They have many plans, including to expand the range of crops that they grow. Of couse, interested visitors from Kunming are welcome to visit. Please see our Chinese language website for more information.
Stay tuned for news about the little 2000 m² global field in Heinigou, China.