Returning to Rural Life and Supportive Networks

返乡青年生态农耕 人才培养与网络搭建

PCD started exploring work with youth in 2005. Over the years, we have helped build platforms with young people, particularly those who have returned to live in rural areas, to enrich their and our understanding of eco-agriculture. We also endeavor to present eco-agriculture as a new way of life for these youth, and for all.

In 2017, the 12th and 13th batch of interns and university students were trained in ecological agriculture and rural community development in collaboration with Jiaze Jishan Institute in Wujin District of Changzhou Municipality. An integrated training base was also set up in the village of Puhan, Yongji District, Shanxi Province, with 24 interns and about 100 university student trainees. Six study groups –nature education, herbal medicine, architectural design, waste management, rural study trips and rural writing –guided the participants to explore the concepts and cultural connotations of sustainable rural living and to develop a strong understanding of community-based agricultural living. They participated closely in Puhan’s daily community work, with ecological technical support occasionally offered by Yunfeng Co-operative of Changchun, Jilin Province.

Taking note of more and more young returnees embracing ecological agriculture and its technology, Nurtureland Sustainable Agricultural Development Centre has continued to build support networks and communication capacity among youth. This effort taps into the new Nurtureland School of Agriculture, recently established in Beijing. The school supports innovative technologies, builds a more comprehensive system for capacity building, and addresses youth’s inner needs for personal growth.

Since August 2017, Nurtureland Sustainable Agricultural Development Centre has also set up six community-supported farms across the country, with 50 young returnees participating in activities at farmer field schools. The schools in Guangdong and Sichuan provinces, relatively more sophisticated, have emerged as strong regional co-learning platforms for local eco-farmers. In December 2017, over 100 new farmers and young returnees from all over China participated in an exchange organised by Nurtureland in Zhongshan Municipality, Guangdong Province. The exchange focused on handicrafts yet also sought to further develop the network.In 2017-18, leveraging on its experience, Nurtureland published three issues of its magazine Sustainable Agriculture and posted more than 190 articles on WeChat, with over 6,100 followers.

These platforms all enable young returnees to become more aware of the diversity of agriculture, increase their options in their rural communities, and build stronger support systems. One participant in Sichuan Province says, “My ideas steadily deepen as I meet different people, and I am more mentally prepared for the various situations back home.” “This preparation and transition is important because we would have made lots of mistakes otherwise.”

(from Annual Report 2017-2018