It's a hobby, not a burden

Updated: 2012-09-19 08:08

By He Na (China Daily)

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It's a hobby, not a burden

 Many people have taken up urban farming, not only because of concerns about food safety, but also for the fun involved in growing their own produce. Feng Yongbin / China Daily

In the eyes of many people, Yu Changlan, a customer service supervisor from Nantong, Jiangsu province has a comparatively wealthy life and is never short of money. That makes it hard for them to understand why she plants vegetables on the balcony, a practice that occupies almost all her leisure time.

But Yu, 34, doesn't care: "I like my hobby and it's not a burden at all. I have a sense of achievement when I see my husband and son eating well," she said. "I don't trust the quality of vegetables bought in the markets. For the sake of my son's health, I would rather work harder."

"Foam boxes only cost around 2 yuan (31 US cents) each and 3 yuan can buy a lot of seeds. The soil is from the suburbs and I am making my own organic fertilizer out of fish guts and other kitchen waste. So, the overall the cost is very low. Any family can afford it," she said.

Yu said her experiences mean that she fully understands that failure is the mother of success.

"I first planted broccoli, but the soil became as hard as a brick and nothing grew. However, I didn't give up. I logged onto the Internet for help and found 52caiyuan, a dedicated urban farmers' website. I learned a lot through consulting people there. Gradually, I understood the process and have even helped other people. I've made a lot of good friends through this experience."

To her surprise, Yu discovered that her son is also very interested in the little vegetable garden. "He often volunteers to water the plants and catch worms and I find that our relationship is much closer now," said Yu. "So far, the output has been enough for my family's needs, and if there is produce we can't eat, I just give it to the neighbors."