Our Programme Foci
Ecological Agriculture
Where We Work: Sichuan / Chongqing

Community Supported Agriculture in Pi County, Sichuan: Building Sustainable Livelihood Hand in Hand and Heart to Heart

Anlong Village is located in the upper reaches of Chengdu. Zouma River, which runs through the village, is 30 km long and flows through Chengdu before flowing into Minjiang River. As modern agricultural production is taking a toll on the health of rivers, villagers of Anlong have abandoned chemical pesticides and fertilizers and returned to traditional farming methods to improve the condition of rivers and protect their families’ health.

In early 2007, a few families explored ecological farming on their small plots of land. Today, more villagers have joined in, and the total area of land has increased to a few dozen mu. Three years ago, when the villagers began to learn ecological farming methods, they were doubtful about the prospect of growing vegetables without the use of chemicals. Today, they speak with confidence to people on the street that the taste and the size of organic vegetables are better than vegetables produced using conventional methods.

Villagers have also begun to sell their vegetables directly to consumers in the city. In doing so, they are also building connections and mutual trust with city dwellers. In the beginning, they were distributing vegetables to 20 customers per week, and this has since risen to 200 customers per week. In the process, they have made many friends and have invited their customers to the village to experience the rural life and taste the food made by villagers. In seeing how tough organic farming is and the challenges of rural life, the customers pledged their continued support to the farmers. Following the 5.12 mega-earthquake, loyal customers tried to learn about the situation of the affected villagers. Thankfully, they found that the villagers were unharmed and their deliveries of organic vegetables soon resumed. In this way, villagers and city dwellers faced the disaster hand in hand and heart to heart.

In the city, a project was initiated to nurture consumers’ health awareness by advocating sustainable livelihood. Activities such as visits to ecological farms and sources of healthy food, have been organized to raise awareness of green consumerism. By organizing small organic markets and activities to experience rural life, urban-rural exchange and interaction have enabled consumers to understand the importance of supporting small farmers. The consumers realize that not only are they consuming fresh and healthy food, they are also supporting small farmers directly. At the same time, cooperation is more easily gained through stronger relationships. Rather than the typical vendor-buyer relationship, consumers and villagers meet to discuss the price of the vegetables and gather for New Year celebrations. Over the last 2 years, they have formed a more personal relationship which has proven to be mutually beneficial.

Despite the higher cost of labour associated with ecological farming, increased support from consumers has resulted in an expansion of land for the purposes of ecological farming. This trend has helped in restoring the richness of the soil, reducing diseases and pests, and gradually increasing production. Such benefits from sustainable development is drawing more and more villagers and farmers from nearby villages and surrounding areas to the project.

Xia Lu, Coordinator, Community Supported Agriculture Project in Pi County

Sichuan Ji Bing, Project Officer, Sichuan Office, PCD