From idle hours to bustling days: rural Shandong's winter comes alive

(Xinhua) 15:06, February 22, 2024

JINAN, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Residents in rural Shandong, one of China's major agricultural provinces, used to have long idle hours during the cold winter months. However, the situation has changed in recent years, with wintertime turning into a busy season.

In Dongchahe Village of the province's Laiyang City, despite the cold weather outside, it is warm inside the greenhouses, where people are busy picking strawberries, a type of fruit that is popular in winter.

Du Xiaowei is one of them. Led by Du, Party chief of the village, Dongchahe Village has set up more than 100 strawberry greenhouses, producing over 20 varieties of strawberries.

To promote the development of the strawberry industry, villagers established a cooperative in 2017 and they transferred 550 mu (about 36.67 hectares) of farmland to construct modern greenhouses and cultivate new varieties.

Eventually, villagers selected and bred strawberry varieties of five different colors -- red, black, white, pink and orange. They have even launched a strawberry gift box featuring five different colors of strawberries, which gains immense popularity among customers. Every single strawberry in the gift box fetches over 7 yuan (about 1 U.S. dollar).

"Advanced, modern agricultural techniques have shattered the seasonal constraints of traditional farming, allowing farmers to work and produce all year round. So, even during winter, the scene is bustling," Du said.

Apart from traditional agricultural activities, the agricultural processing industry in rural Shandong also sees a busy season.

At the Springsnow Food Group Co., Ltd. factory in coastal Yantai City, workers are busy processing a variety of chicken products such as popcorn, steak, meatballs and sausages.

"We have seen a significant increase of orders that starts before the Spring Festival, and the factory has operated at full capacity. Some orders have to be scheduled for production after the holiday," said Chen Fei, vice president of the company.

With the rapid development of the pre-prepared food industry, there's been a noticeable increase in the winter workload for the agricultural deep processing sector, Chen added.

Meanwhile, in Nanzhangkuang Village in Shanqiandian Township, the laughter and chatter of tourists continue to echo through the winter months.

The villagers have turned the village into a captivating ice and snow wonderland, featuring a range of winter activities such as ice and snow-themed events and fresh fruit picking for parents as well as children, drawing tourists from nearby cities to enjoy the experience.

"I had initially planned to take my children to northeastern China for a winter trip, but upon learning about the ice and snow landscapes here, I tweaked my plan," said Zhang Xiaoguang, a tourist.

The village, once a popular summer retreat, has now emerged as a sought-after winter tourist destination, said Xu Qiang, a township official, noting that the villagers have embraced rural winter tourism as an opportunity to generate income.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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