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China Daily Website

And in Shanghai, they got bored

Updated: 2012-09-03 10:07
By Xu Junqian and Zhou Qinnan ( China Daily)

"That's not going to meet the needs of supplying safe food," which he admits is the broader issue.

Pan Tao, the founder of Ego Land Farm, has thought of an alternative way to attract and keep the attention. He has the children involved.

"Kids love nature. And when it involves children, the strategy is different," says Pan, a 36-year-old Shanghai native.

Pan studied in Germany for five years, and says he was greatly impressed by the lifestyle of his neighbors in Cottobus, southwest of Berlin.

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"Almost every family has an allotment in the suburbs, which they call 'Schrebergarten', a concept named after Dr Daniel Moritz Schreber, who, in the 19th century, advocated a natural space for kids to play and learn about farming.

Pan's conviction grew and peaked when his daughter Lily was born five years ago.

With a couple of years and an investment of 1.5 million yuan ($235,500), Pan's Ego Land Farm was established in 2010.

It covers more than 60,000 square meters on the outskirts of Shanghai.

The farm has attracted a regular clientele of about 1,200 families, mostly drawn from professions such as doctors, professors, lawyers and engineers in the city, and the number is growing at a rate of 50 percent every year.

"I cannot quantify how healthy or creative my child has become, or the other kids coming to the farm.

"But I can see her happy face and empty rice bowl after each visit," says Pan. "And she is making more friends."

But despite his own success, Pan believes it's impossible to turn urbanites into farmers, not even weekend ones.

"It's more about fun, and my job is to have urbanites and their future generation appreciate the process of food production and respect what they are eating.

"The joy of harvesting at the farm is more than just about the food."

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