Agrilandia: Italian Organic Farming in China
Beijing parents who belong to the urban migration in China have found an opportunity to bring their children back to the land. On 17 hectares east of Beijing Capital International Airport, the Agrilandia Italian Farm opens its doors to visitors who want to sprawl in the grass, eat an authentic Italian meal or self-pick around twenty varieties each of apricots, cherries, plums, peaches, apples, grapes and pears. Claudio Bonfatti, and his wife Lu Hongwei, started the farm as a family retreat and to grow vegetables and herbs for authentic Italian dishes at their Beijing restaurant, Peter Pan. Their empire has since grown to include a second restaurant in town and a restaurant at the farm. The farm sells cuttings from the imported fruit trees and proselytizes the virtues of organic farming.
However, expansion of the Beijing airport to accommodate the 2008 Olympic games will force Agrilandia off of the land which the Bonfattis currently lease at a pre-boom price of $633 per hectare per year. Negotiations are underway for a new location, but the move will force the small organic farm to grow or die. Fortunately, Agrilandia has big plans. The first goal is to bring the beloved Italian concept of agritourism to Beijing. 60-70 rooms and event space is planned at the new site. They will continue to produce the organic red wines, cheeses and preserves with the hopes that Chinese visitors will come to appreciate these precious foods as do the native Italians.
Farm marketing director, Frederico Moro, is quoted at worldwatch:
What we are doing here, from a holistic perspective, is something very new. What is unique is the connection of all of these different aspects into one thriving farm economy. This is something that hasn't existed in China before."
Worldwatch also reports that Agrilandia has taken a proactive approach to spreading organic farming techniques in China. Government officials have been trained at the Agrilandia partner farm in Italy and local training and pilot projects advance the cause locally.