In China, farming is not a revered occupation, it is stigmatized as peasant work. The next generation of farmers are trying to move away from their farming roots and into the rapidly modernizing culture. Yet we have met revolutionary farmers who have left the fast paced city life to Farm due to dissatisfaction with food system. Dissatisfaction with the food system isn’t new in China, but leaving your modernized life to become a farmer is unheard of. I believe, Dreamland Farm and Xingeng Eco Farm are at the forefront of the eco farming trend in China. They believe if you want honest, healthy food, you must grow it yourself or at least have a relationship with the person who is growing it. Ms. Yang and her husband founded Xingeng Eco Farm after giving birth to her son in 2004. She knew she wanted to provide her son with safe, healthy food, so she formed a relationship with a lady who grew and sold “organic produce”. Yet one day she saw the lady go into a big supermarket and buy non-natural vegetables that she later sold as “natural and organic.”
Eco farming is tedious and currently only possible on a small scale, making it impossible to feed the entire Chinese population. The government doesn’t even believe the strenuous efforts of eco farming are worth the honest produce. Ms. Yang believes that natural farming will never be a mainstream enterprise or a dominate food source for China. China’s population is far to large to sustain itself on such a tedious production. Yet Tigris at Dreamland EcoFarm believes in the long run (as soil continues to deplete from pesticides and chemicals) people will start to turn to natural farming. He believes, in the future, it will be the most profitable form of farming.
When both Tigris and Ms. Yang first started their farms, their farming neighbors called them fools. The neighbors believed it would never work. We had the opportunity to talk with one of Tigris’s farm mangers Mr. Chen, whom has been farming since he was a child. When he first met Tigris, he also thought that the natural farming techniques would never produce or sustain. Yet after working for Tigris for a while, he has seen Tigris’s persistence and dedication and now believes in the value of natural farming. In fact, he noted, although farmers around Tigris continue with their traditional farming methods, they are beginning to section of small portions of their land to feed their families, and that they farming these subsections naturally. Therefore, we can see with time their attitude towards Tigris and natural farming are changing.
Both Tigris and Ms.Yang recognize China’s overall lack of desire to continue farming. Therefore, they have both implemented educational programs, to help re-instill a love for farming. Xingeng Eco Farm focuses their educational programs towards the children of generational farmers. They hope to encourage the next generation of farmers to fall in love with farming, instead of abandoning it for fast pace modernity. These educational programs are building the gap between generation farming and natural farming.