Farming was considered part of the rural charm in the past. But now, farms have come to the concrete jungle and they can even be found high up on balconies.
According to a recent report released by Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba, the sales of vegetable seeds in the first quarter on Tmall doubled compared with the same period last year. Sales of products such as nutrient soil and gardening tools have tripled since April of last year. Out of all the people buying farming tools and seeds, most were born after 1995.
Zhang Chao, 17, from Anhui province, is one young “urban farmer”. The senior high student said his fondness for planting was formed in primary school when he lived with his grandpa in the countryside.
“Spending his whole life as a farmer, my grandpa likes to plant seasonal vegetables in our backyard garden when he was older,” Zhang said. “Inspired by his passion, I also learned to grow my own vegetables.”
Though farming is a labor-intensive process including ploughing, fertilizing and watering, Zhang said he still had a sense of achievement when he saw seeds gradually turn into seedlings and later plants.
“It has brought me good memories,” added Zhang.
Although Zhang recently moved to a place without a yard, he continues his hobby with a balcony garden. He has since bought strawberry and tomato seeds.
“Growing fruits and vegetables not only brings delicious food and enhances food security, but it also reminds me of the happy times with my grandpa,” said Zhang.
Unlike Zhang, Fang Minke from Shenzhen Foreign Languages School considers planting a garden a good way to relax and develop patience.
Juggling many academic responsibilities, the 16-year-old girl sometimes feels frustrated.
“How much I longed for a splash of color in my fast-paced life!” said Fang.
To help put some spark back in her life, she started planting vegetables on her balcony in 2021. Most of the seeds were given by her friends. Fang doesn’t always know which plant seeds are from, so she just plants them and waits patiently. After half a year, her balcony has become a “small garden”, including different flowers and herbs, like coriander.
After she spends long hours on homework, she likes to walk around her balcony garden. “Seeing the various colors and breathing fresh air, I feel closer to nature and refreshed,” Fang said. “The vegetables and herbs may not be staple foods on our table, but they will surely add a touch of flavor to our dishes and spice up our busy days.”
Planting vegetables is now more than just a way to survive. It also brings joy and purpose to young people’s lives.