Go pick 'em: Strawberries in dead of winter

Jan 14, 2015

Visitors pick strawberries in a shed in Jinshan where a strawberry festival is underway, inviting people to pick and taste the ripening fruit. — Photos by Zhuang Yi

 IT may be the dead of winter, but luscious strawberries straight from the greenhouse are ripe and ready for visitors to the Jinshan Strawberry Festival, which runs through March 8.

City dwellers can brave the cold and escape the crowds to enjoy country air and fun on the farm, pick, taste and buy fresh, juicy strawberries at the district's orchards, and stay with farmers, overnight if they wish. More than 176 hectares of strawberries in Jinshan District are ready for picking. It represents a bumper harvest this winter.

Urban day trippers can tour the Jinshan Strawberry Research and Development Center, where they can get a lesson on strawberry growing by farmers and then go pick some berries.

The festival includes a variety of events including a photography contest, special decorations for Valentine's Day and lessons for children to grow strawberries at home.

Farmers started growing strawberries in the district more than 30 years ago and the total planting area has since expanded to 167 hectares.

In recent years, the suburban district cooperated with a Taiwan agricultural committee, and local farmers learned advanced growing techniques. Organic fertilizers are used along with a combination of artificial and bee pollination.

"We try to reduce plant diseases and insects with ventilation and lowering the humidity in the sheds," said Gu Baogen, the center's director. "Thus Jinshan strawberries are always in the best shape with almost no deformities even though they are not the biggest."

Initially farmers grew strawberries individually but with increasing cooperation from their counterparts in Taiwan, an entire strawberry industry has emerged in the district.

Zhang Yajun, director of the Jinshan Agricultural Committee, says they are expanding to more sales channels this year, including online options.

Last May, a processing factory was set up in Jinshan. The factory produces strawberry jam, dried strawberries, strawberry wine and strawberry fillings for cakes and pastries.

"The strawberry industry is not just about attracting tourists. More importantly, it will help our farmers increase their annual income," Zhang says.

Every 667 square meters of strawberries can generate about 20,000 yuan (US$3,218) in revenue, with farmers earning a 10,000 yuan profit.

Jinshan Strawberry Research and Development Center
How to get there:
By bus: Take Lianlang Line at Metro Line 1 Lianhua Road Station. It stops at Langxia Town. Remind the bus driver in advance to stop at the front door of the strawberry center.
By car: Take Highway G60 (Shanghai-Kunming) then switch to the G15 Highway. Exit at Jinshan New City ramp. Turn left on Songwei Road S. and turn left on Caolang Road.

Shanghai Canhui Fruits and Vegetables Association
Shanghai Minxiang Fruits and Vegetables Association
Shanghai Xinhe Fruits and Vegetables Association
Shanghai Baoqin Fruits and Vegetables Association
Shanghai Jiayi Strawberry Association
Li Yunchao Strawberry Orchard
Shanghai Qiangfeng Fruits and Vegetables Association
Shanghai Jingui Association of Jujubes and Strawberries
Shanghai Tingzhong Association of Grains
Shanghai Jiayan Flowers Association