Farming in China

The Shandong peninsula has long been a fruit bowl of China. The delta of the Yellow River has moved many times over thousands of years and has left a wonderful depth of free draining silt across much of Shandong.

The climate is different in Shandong to other parts of the world at the same latitude and presents its own challenges. Shandong gets the tail end of a monsoon in midsummer which makes the months of July and August often wet. Furthermore, the dry winter and wind chills from Siberia can be very cold indeed. We have learnt over the years that there are benefits to this rigorous climate as well as some drawbacks, for example:

• Adequate winter chilling which allows the many fruits that need a dormant period to thrive. Apples, pears, peaches, and apricots are produced in colossal quantities in China; some 30 million tons of apples and 14 million tons of pears are produced annually with the USA by comparison producing 4.3 million tons and less than 1 million tons respectively.

• Organic management of fruit is easier. Pest populations are knocked back every year and the mould that can often be a big problem for strawberries in Poland, for example, does not trouble us. With plentiful labour to hand weed we do not need herbicides. So while there are critics of organic farming in China we have 14 years’ experience which shows it can be done well.

Much of the challenges associated with a cold winter climate can be overcome by the fantastic large Chinese warming polytunnels, of which we have 19 on our farms.With these structures, it is possible to ripen strawberries in mid-winter when the outside temperature may be no more than zero, and night time temperatures at around -10°C. Some of our fruit is grown on table top systems that can be raised or lowered to maximise sunlight exposure. As a result, we can ensure we keep up with our customers’ demands and supply fruit all year round.

We take our ethical and social responsibility very seriously. In addition to our organic stewardship of our land, we have installed a waste water treatment system that allows all our waste water from washing and processing to be returned to nearby farms as completely clean irrigation water. We have a tank in our final outlet stocked with fish as evidence of this purity. We observe the employment laws of China and our staff is our greatest asset.

We are members of SEDEX.