Chinese urban professionals going back to the land

A young couple decides that the urban corporate rat race is no longer their scene, and chooses to buy a piece of land in the country to start their own organic farm.

Heard this story before? Probably… with the young couple in question coming from LA, Chicago, or New York. Turns out this lifestyle choice is no longer uniquely American, though: Chongming Island, China is turning into a destination for disaffected Chinese yuppies looking to get back to the land.

Like their counterparts in the US, the reasons for this choice vary: getting away from city stresses, wanting to know the sources of their food (because they’ve been affected by the various tainted food problems, too), or desiring to live more in tune with their environmental values. According to the Washington Post, though, would-be organic farmers in China face a number of big challenges:

  • Organic farming doesn’t mean chemical-free in China: Much of the land and water in the country is so polluted that “organic” is a very relative term.
  • Organic labeling is fraught with corruption: There is no single organic standard in China, and many of the certifications out there can be had for the right price.
  • Chinese culture doesn’t think much of small-scale farmers: Farming’s always been seen as low-class peasant work in China (with the relatively brief period of romanticizing it under Mao). So, making this choice likely means a lot of heat from friends and family.

It’s a tough choice… and, so far, an unprofitable one for Chongming’s farmers. Despite the hardships, though, they’re all finding a lot satisfaction… and with organic produce carrying a cache’ among the country’s upper middle class, they may even find a way to make it pay.

via the Riverfront Times


  • New book tells you everything you need to know about green lighting.
  • Got your own back to the land aspirations? Check out our current selections of organic seeds.

Image credit: Ivan Walsh at Flickr under a Creative Commons license