Overseas Returnee Pursues Agriculture Dream

October 11, 2018
Editor: Liu Yanmei
Overseas Returnee Strives for Her Green Agriculture Dream
Li Zeyan [Xinhua / Yang Shiyao]


A female overseas returnee who gave up her high-paid city job and returned to her hometown Qinhuangdao, north China's Hebei Province, to run a farm spoke to interviewers recently to share her story.

Li Zeyan, who studied Korean at college, chose to work for a Korean company in Beijing after she graduated in 2005, and later went to the U.S. to study in the University of Oregon.

"At first, I studied business like most Chinese students. But I found I wasn’t enjoying it. I like philosophy and sociology more," Li recalled.

Li worked in two high-end customized travel agencies as an overseas tour planner after returning to China in 2014.

Two years later, when company leaders offered her a promotion and equity, Li, 30, decided to quit her job.

"I found that owning luxury things didn't make me feel happier than being a volunteer to help others," Li said.

Therefore, she chose to be a "farmer" in her 30s.

When further explaining her reason for this decision, Li noted, "Food security and environment have already become serious social problems, so I want to work in agriculture to produce safe and nutritious food."

Li and her three partners, none of whom had studied agriculture or a relevant major, rented a piece of land covering 3.3 acres in Funing County, central Qinhuangdao, and named it Qinshan Farm in 2015.

However, due to economic, family and public pressure, two partners left, leaving Li and Cai Feifei.

The two young women have confirmed their choice, and they have invested 2 million yuan into their farm so far.

Li tried planting Taiwan's instant cauliflower in their farm in 2016 but failed. The experience taught Li to adjust the operating strategy.

They opened their first direct-sale store in an upscale neighborhood in Funing in April 2016, which also "taught them a lesson."

Their standard prices and charge for bags caused some consumers' dissatisfaction.

Although Li and Cai were stressed out, they decided to learn from successful stalls to adapt to the new environment.

Their high-quality vegetables soon brought their store many customers.

In Qinshan Farm, there are 400 high-quality peach trees whose seedlings were supplied by the local academy of agricultural sciences.

At the same time, Li insisted on planting beans such as soya and black beans to improve the quality of the land as well as create economic benefits.

In the past few years, they have achieved certain achievements: their farm has expanded to 9.9 acres; the broccoli, potatoes and peas they planted have passed the national certification of pollution-free agricultural products; and, their brand "Qinshan Tiantian" has successfully entered markets in Beijing and Tianjin.

"We aim to allow more people to eat safe, naturally mature, non-genetically modified food, and return the land and crops to their original ecological nature," Li said.

"At the same time, we want to drive the surrounding farmers to get rid of their traditional planting models and pursue green benefits together. Older generations of farmers need young people's help in learning new knowledge and ideas," Li added.

This year, she's trying to develop "Happy Farm," and build a terrace where people can enjoy the view, a barbecue, buffet and party.

Li also plans to work with local schools to develop an education base to help children understand where food comes from, learn about agriculture and experience the harvest process.

If she hadn’t given up her job and left Beijing three years ago, Li would be richer. But she says she has never regretted her decision to become a farmer. "Because what I'm doing now makes more senses. Pursuing something of value adds significance to life."


Overseas Returnee Strives for Her Green Agriculture Dream
Li Zeyan and her partner in their farm [Xinhua / Yang Shiyao]


(Source: China Women's News/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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