After months of self-confinement, it’s time to take advantage of the warming temperatures and engage in manual labor – the fun kind, we swear – on the outskirts of Beijing. Areas like Changping, Daxing, and Huairouare hotbeds of strawberry cultivation; grown indoors in greenhouses, the many strains and varieties of fruitallow Beijing residents to pick their own strawberries as late as June. The little red fruits are a great sourceof vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and flavonoids, and can be eaten raw, baked into desserts, used as toppings, or made into preserves.
Beijing’s pick-your-own-fruit farms are staffed by locals, so brush up on your Chinese or get a Chinese-speaking friend to call ahead and enquire on your behalf. Most farms charge by the jin (500g) and don’t necessarily have restaurants nearby, so it’s a good idea to pack a lunch, some snacks, and enough hydration. The suggestions in this article are just a starting point; even if your chosen farm isn’t open on the day of your visit, just drive around the area and you’ll be sure to run into another.
The largest strawberry-producing region, Changping District, has its own website (www.changpingcaomeiwang.com) dedicated to strawberry producers. Though it’s in Chinese only, it has a handy list of addresses and contact information for each farm in the area. Located close to Xiaotangshan, the area in and around Xingshou Village is the largest strawberry-growing region in Changping. There are many varieties of strawberries, the most popular being Queen Emperor (imported from Japan) and Hongyan (known for its juiciness). China Aviation Museum isn’t far from here, so consider making a detour if you have kids who are into planes.
Beijing Nankou Farm 北京市南口农场
One of the more established agri-tourism centers, Nankou allows visitors to pick their own fruits, dig up herbs, buy organic products, or “adopt” a tree. This farm has its own restaurant.
Price: RMB 50 per jin
Contact: South Nankou, Changping District (6075 5064, Mr. Liu: 139 1077 6779, Mr. Wang Pengfei: 139 1031 5570, firstname.lastname@example.org) www.chppg.com 昌平区南口镇南
Juanzi Strawberry Farm 娟子草莓农场
Covering an area of over 50 acres, Juanzi
Strawberry Farm offers both organic and non-organic strawberries. The latter cost less but are hardier; the former are grown naturally but must be picked with care, as they bruise more easily.
Price: Varies according to variety. For example, Hongyan strawberries cost RMB 60 per jin while Queen Emperor costs RMB 80 per jin.
Contact: Changjin Lu, Xiying Village, Xingshou Town, Changping District (6172 2828) 昌平兴寿镇西营村昌金路
Tianyi Strawberry Ecology 天翼草莓园
Founded in 2001, Tianyi is one of the longest-running strawberry producers and covers a whopping 5,930 acres.
Price: RMB 100 per jin (Hongyan), RMB 25-80 per jin for other varieties.
Contact: West Gate of China Aviation
Museum, Xiaotangshan, Changping District (6172 1718/9) www.tianyicaomei.cn 昌平区小汤山镇中国航空博物馆正门西侧
Hongmei Garden 红梅园
Hongmei has 30 greenhouses with organically-grown strawberries. There’s also another farm called Zhongtian Hanhai nearby where visitors can pick their own pears and prunes.
Price: RMB 100 per jin
Contact: North Chawu Village, East Qiaozi Town, Huairou District (6967 6392, 134 5685 5878) 怀柔区桥梓镇东茶坞村北
Yuqing Garden 清寓庄园
The pick-your-own fruit section of Yuqing Garden is part of a team building location with areas designated for paintball, fishing, and dining. There’s also a picnic and barbecue area where you will find families setting up tents and grills.
Prices: RMB 30 per jin
Contact: 100m North of Hongjun village, Huairou Town, Huairou District (6067 1510, 137 1685 9115) 怀柔区怀柔镇红军庄村北100米
Red Sun Fruit Picking Garden 北京怀柔红日采摘园
While this farm is perhaps better known for its pears, they also have a tasty selection of strawberries. Be sure to ask the for the locals’ help for finding the
Prices: RMB 30 per jin
Contact: Dashuiyu Village, Huaibei Town, Huairou District (137 1659 1895) www.hrhongtaiyang.com 怀柔区怀北镇大水峪村
Beijing Royal Garden 北京御景园草莓种植基地
This farm has nearly 50 acres worth of crops and dozens of organic greenhouses, and specializes in growing huge, juicy strawberries that can weigh up to 100g each. Visitors can also pick other produce, such as Dutch cucumbers, small pumpkins, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more.
Price: RMB 100 per jin
Contact: Chilu Village, Changziying Town, Daxing District (400 007 5757 ext 58084, 130 5179 8777) 大兴区长子营镇赤鲁村
Chidaofeng Strawberry and Cherry Farm 赤道风草莓樱桃采摘园
Covering around 33 acres, Chidaofeng has 30 strawberry greenhouses, six of which are cultivated using organic methods. There are many varities, including Hongyan. The farm can accommodate anywhere from 500 to 1,000 visitors at any given time. There is also a small zoo nearby.
Price: Prices tend to be higher during high season (Chinese New Year and spring) – RMB 100 per jin on average – but might tail off to around RMB 10 per jin by the end of May. Most of the time, they average RMB 30-50 per jin.
Contact: Zhanggongfa Village,
Panggezhuang Township, Daxing District (8925 3968, Mr. Li: 133 2116 4068) 大兴区庞各庄镇张公垡村
Useful phrases and vocabulary for day trippers with limited Mandarin
We would like to go to…
Wo men xiang qu …
How much does it cost?
Duo shao qian?
Where do I get the bus to…?
Na li cheng qu … de gongjiao che?
… zai na’er?
Can you show me on the map?
Keyi bang wo zhi yixia di tu ma?
Where can I get a taxi?
Nali keyi da dao che?
Does this bus stop at…?
Zhe ge gong jiao che qu … ma?
Wo mi lu le.
I need help.
Wo xu yao bangzhu.
China Aviation Museum
It’s this way
Zhe me zou
Turn right at the first intersection
Di yi ge lu kou you zhuan
Turn left at the second traffic light
Di er ge hong lv deng zuo zhuan
I’m sorry, I don’t know
Dui bu qi, wo bu zhidao
How much does this cost?
Duo shao qian?
How much for 500g?
Yijin duo shao qian?
What produce can I pick?
Wo keyi zhai shen me?
Are these organic?
Shi youji de ma?
Xing or xingzi
Tao or taozi
Xihongshi or fanqie
FACILITIES AND SERVICES:
Where is the restroom?
Xishou jian zai na’er?
Where is the nearest restaurant?
Zui jin de can ting zai na’er?
Where can I get something to eat?
Na’er you mai shi pin de?
Where can I buy some water?
Na’er you mai shui de?
Can I pay by card?
Keyi shua ka ma?
This article originally appeared on page 42-47 of the April 2015 Issue of beijingkids. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com
Photos: AZ Adam, Osamu Iwasaki, Cattriana (Flickr), Joey Guo