Tired of City Hustle, Chinese Urbanites Take Up Rural Farming

"Urbanite farmers" harvest vegetables in the rented garden in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province. (Photo provided to Xinhua)

CHANGSHA (Xinhua) — With a gentle spring breeze stroking her face, seven-year-old Guoguo meticulously takes on the responsibility of taking care of dozens of vegetable seedlings in a rural garden rented by her parents two years ago in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province.

The family has grown greens for their everyday cooking in the garden, such as cucumbers, towel gourds, tomatoes and Chinese cabbages. They sow the seeds during the plowing seasons, look after the plants during the weekends and embrace the harvests in the fall, all offering them respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

The piece of land the family rents belongs to a farm in the outskirts of Changsha where urbanites can pay rent to grow fruits and vegetables in a field of 50 square meters.

“My child is always eager to spend the weekends in the field and we have begun to let her shoulder the responsibility of growing the vegetables with us,” said Xu Wei, mother of Guoguo, adding that the farm not only encourages residents to enrich their lives but also provides job opportunities for the disabled.


The farm, covering 35 mu (over 23,000 square meters), has employed 32 workers with physical disabilities to look after the land and contact tenants based on a government-sponsored project.

People with physical disabilities are offered jobs here to look after the land and teach “urbanite farmers” to grow vegetables, April 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Ruan Zhouwei)

Liu Shaowen, one of the workers, said the job brings him an additional income of 2,400 yuan (about 340 U.S. dollars) per month. The flexible work schedule also allows him to take care of his mentally handicapped wife at home near the farm.

During the day, Liu updates tenants on the growth of the plants through WeChat and coordinates their visits.

“Workers with physical disabilities can obtain a sense of achievement and identity through the work,” said Xie Xiangqian in charge of the project.

Nearly 50 people have rented fields to grow their vegetables since the project was kicked off in 2018, Xie said.


Workers also teach our kids how to grow different vegetables and share knowledge about agricultural tools so that children begin to realize that “every single grain is the fruit of hard work,” said Xu.

“We strongly support the project as it not only benefits those in need with job opportunities but also improves their livelihood,” said Peng Huan, village secretary of Lianhuashan Village where the farm is located.

As the epidemic has been further contained in China, Xie said he plans to enhance the infrastructure of the farm and develop more entertainment facilities to invite more guests from urban areas.