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Creating dream farm

Updated: Aug 18, 2022 Women of China Print
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[Photo/Women of China]

Zhao Qian and her family run a farm near Pengzhen, a town in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province. The farm covers 15 mu (1 hectare), and it has more than 1,700 varieties of crops and flowers. To offer visitors the best possible experience, the farm receives only a small group of visitors each day. On the farm, visitors can have a picnic, plant crops, harvest fruits and vegetables and make floral arrangements. They can enjoy their time playing with their children and/or chatting with friends. The farm can also host weddings.

Zhao was raised by her grandparents in the countryside of Chengdu. She studied hotel management in college, and she worked for several months in Beijing after she graduated. She has been a writer, editor and accountant, and owner of a flower shop. After she returned to Chengdu, she and her friends planned to open a restaurant. While she was researching and planning to purchase materials for the restaurant, she thought about opening a farm. "My previous career was not smooth, but all of the experience was an asset to me when I started up my own business," Zhao says.

She developed a complete plan for the style and management of her farm. She hoped the farm would have beautiful, edible plants and safe agricultural products, and that it could host weddings, parties and salons.

In early 2020, Zhao and her family rented 10 mu (0.67 hectares) of rural land near Chengdu. They did all of the preparations themselves: They designed the gardens, drilled the wells, planted the trees and flowers, and built the cabins and shelters for grapes. They also planted various crops and flowers, so the farm would have a different look in each season.

Zhao felt she was lucky the farm made a profit in its second year. The farm provides fresh, organic products, flowers and spices to several restaurants and flower shops in urban Chengdu.

Zhao, who has passion for life and a rich imagination, is a good party organizer. Her farm has hosted several weddings, reading salons and family banquets, and it can be rented for photo shoots. As many of the visitors have said they liked the designs of the gardens, Zhao began offering private garden designing and renovating services.

Running the beautiful farm has Zhao and her family working hard, day after day. Chen Shaoquan, her father-in-law, deals with electrical work and woodworking. Liu Dengying, her mother-in-law, plants the crops and feeds the animals. Liu is also good at communicating with visitors.

Every day, Zhao gets up early to check and take care of the plants, and she makes plans for the weekly activities to be held on the farm. She also spends time with her 6-year-old son, often reading or painting.

Some people have commented on Zhao's social-media accounts, saying they envied Zhao's "comfortable" farm life. Zhao has explained the farm is about agricultural production, and the business is not as romantic as it seems. She and Chen Wei, her husband, had to sell their house, in urban Chengdu, to have enough money to operate the farm at the beginning.

Zhao, who was born in the 1990s, has rough hands and tanned skin due to the heavy farm work. She is still happy with her busy life.

Some investors have offered to work with Zhao in developing the farm. Zhao didn't accept their offers because she wanted to build her unique "dream farm." Earlier this year, Zhao rented and renovated some old houses near the farm. The houses look as beautiful and romantic as those in films.

Zhao wants her visitors to be able to smell the fragrance of the soil and feel the true tempo of life on a farm. "It doesn't matter what kind of house you live in. It matters how you live your life," she says. She believes, through the farm, she can make agriculture more attractive — and closer — to young people.

[Photo/Women of China]

Photos Supplied by Zhao Qian

(Women of China English Monthly July 2022 issue)

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