Shandong park provides rosy outlook for villagers
By Zhao Ruixue in Rizhao, Shandong| (China Daily)| Updated : 2023-11-03Print Print
A villager prepares fresh-cut roses at the Qufang Modern Agricultural Industry Park in Wujia Qufang village in Juxian county, Shandong province. ZHAO RUIXUE/CHINA DAILY
Zhang Jicai, a villager in Rizhao, Shandong province, spends 10 minutes walking from her home to a rose-growing greenhouse at the Qufang Modern Agricultural Industry Park where she works.
In the clean and bright greenhouse in her village — Wujia Qufang, located in Juxian county — an array of roses from countries such as the Netherlands, France and Germany are ready to blossom.
"I work in a 'flower house' and live in a 'garden-like community'," said Zhang, 36.
The community she lives in is a newly built one. She and 1,660 others in her village moved into two-floor villas and apartments in the community in 2020.
Facilities, including a kindergarten, a primary school, an after-school study room, a canteen for elderly people and a clinic, are well-appointed with exquisite landscaping.
"Years ago, young people in our village went to cities to work, but now they are eager to return to the village because we can earn a decent salary by working in the park," said Zhang, adding that more importantly, young people who return can take care of their children and parents.
The creation of the agricultural park has brought about many changes in Wujia Qufang.
It has not only provided jobs for villagers, but has also boosted their collective income, said Dong Xueshan, Party secretary of the village.
The park, which received an investment from a company in 2018, now produces 4,000 metric tons of cherry tomatoes and 17 million fresh-cut roses annually. Besides offering jobs, the park also pays the villagers a dividend for its use of the land.
The roses grown in the greenhouse are high quality.
"The fresh-cut flowers can last for two weeks, about twice as long as regular roses," said Zhao Shanxing, chief engineer of the park. "For holidays such as Spring Festival and Valentine's Day, the demand is high, with an average of 200,000 flowers sold every day."
This year, the park's best rose sales were during Qixi, the Chinese version of Valentine's Day, with customers preferring orange roses in particular, he said.
Because the current supply of roses cannot meet demand, the operator of the park is building two new flower bases to increase production.
"We plan to expand our cherry tomato and fresh-cut rose markets overseas next year," Zhao said.
As the village earns more from the industry, more services are being provided to improve villagers' lives.
All of the 227 people above age 65 can enjoy breakfast and lunch for free daily in the village's daycare center for seniors.
"The reason for providing two meals is because young people have to go to work during the day, so they don't have time to take care of their parents. We encourage young people to have dinner with their parents, which is a traditional value of filial piety," Dong said.
The 700-square-meter center is equipped with a canteen, a clinic and sports facilities, and it has become a place where seniors gather to socialize.