A 2010 study on the benefits of organic food by The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that organic foods have lower pesticide levels, and by-products from organically raised animals were less likely to contain drug-resistant bacteria and contaminants. Letting kids experience harvest season at local organic farms gives them a chance to get their hands dirty and run around while you pick up something healthy, seasonal, and delicious to cook. Thankfully there are more and more organic farms around Beijing: this isn’t a complete list, but it’s a good place to start.
Name: De Run Wu 德润屋
Description: This family-run “organic” farm was started by Dr. Ji Yunliang and his wife Alison Wang in 2004. Their farming practices are based on Buddhists doctrine therefore there’s no use of pesticides and no pest control; however the farm has not been certified organic by the relevant authorities. De Run Wu take orders online and deliver produce twice a week. It’s free to visit the farm. Groups can harvest produce at the farm if they arrange in advance with staff. The minimum group size for harvesting is eight people.
Produce: Over 100 different varieties such as cucumber, eggplant, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, and more.
Address: Free to visit. Daily 8am-5pm. Strawberry Fields, Xinzhuang, Xingshou Town, Changping District (8459 0809, 139 1189 3712 (English), firstname.lastname@example.org) www.bjchano.com 昌平区兴寿镇辛庄草莓园
Name: Little Donkey 小毛驴市民农园
Description: Remin University PhD graduate Shi Yan convinced the Beijing government to let her begin a community-supported agriculture (CSA) project at Little Donkey in April 2008. Little Donkey is a collaboration between Beijing’s Haidian District’s Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and Renmin University’s School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Reconstruction Department. Book ahead to visit the farm. They also deliver produce twice a week or offer pick up from their offices.
Produce: Over 100 different varieties such as tomatoes, onions, spring onions, Chinese cabbage, eggplant, and more.
Address: Free to visit. Daily 8am – 5pm. Houshajian Village
West, Sujiatuo Town, Haidian District (138 1095 6036,
email@example.com) www.littledonkeyfarm.com 海淀区苏家坨镇后沙涧村西
Name: Tootoo Organic Farm 沱沱工社
Description: This farm was started by IT firm, Ninetowns Internet
Technology Group Limited in 2008 and has grown to become one of the leading online retailers of organic farm produce. Their open fields and greenhouses are located in Pinggu District and have organic certifications from China and the European Union. They offer farm visits for a price which varies depending on the seasonal programs underway at the farm. Kids can pet and feed the animals and/or plant, weed, and harvest produce.
Produce: Over 150 different varieties such as Chinese chives, spinach, Chinese little greens, spore cabbages, and more.
Address: Prices vary. Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat-Sun and holidays 9am-7pm. Ma Changying Village, Ma Changying Town, Pinggu District (400 898 979) www.tootoo.cn/en 平谷区马昌营镇马昌营村
Name: Green Cow Organic Farm 绿牛有机农庄
Description: Started in 2004 by Lejen Chen and Shan En in Shunyi after a quest to find lettuce for their restaurant, Mrs. Shanen’s in Shunyi, proved futile. Green Cow is also a CSA working with over 20 members who help with cultivation. They use most of what they grow to feed their animals and make compost using materials such as foliage from the farm. They supply their restaurants Mrs. Shanen’s and Green Cow Café in the 798 art district with ingredients. They deliver once a week. Visitors can come to the farm and learn about sustainability as well as take part in harvesting. The farm doesn’t accept drop-ins, and does charge. For prices, call ahead and discuss which activities you want to do.
Produce: Over 60 different varieties including pumpkins, arugula, snap peas, celery, and more.
Address: Prices vary. Daily 9am-5pm. Donggezhuang (10 min north of the International Exhibition Center), Houshayu Zhen, Shunyi District (8046 4301, 135 0113 6920) www.greencowfarm.com
Photo: Joey Guo