We met at the same busy street corner, where parents consulted about directions to our destination, a
demonstration organic farm about an hour outside the city. This time we were a
carpool of ten cars, winding through the karst hillsides of the Guizhou
countryside. Along the way we passed another “Club” consisting of youthful bike
riders. As the numbers of participants in our excursion grew, and as we waved
to other gatherings on the roadside, it was clear the hunger for hobbies and
leisurely activities in China is growing! Likewise, Chinese parents are also
hungry for safe outdoor activities for their children.
Shortly before arriving, we passed a tall cement structure listing the name of the town, Bai Yi, meaning,
essentially, “everything is good.” And indeed, this area is truly a refreshing
departure from the dusty, crowded city we came from. It is known for having no
industry or mining, and the soil has been tested to allow for organic farming.
It was green, it was clean. Without ever stepping out of our cars, we were
We arrived at the farm headquarters. While the town leaders described the history
of the founding of the farm and methods utilized (including biogas from the
pigs living below the building), I took the restless children down to the
crops. Their parents stayed behind to hear the details. In this sense, due to
my non-fluent Chinese, I preferred to be with the children!
We started our exploration with the enticing game of chasing and catching butterflies and dragonflies dancing
around the crops. A farmer met us along the road and guided us down to her
fields, where some of us gathered luscious cucumbers. These were truly the
juiciest, crispiest, and most fresh cucumbers I have ever tasted! The children
were quite gleeful to eat freshly picked cucumbers.
Consistent with Chinese tradition, by noon food was on everybody’s mind. We have found that most every event must
incorporate a dinner of some sort! We transferred over to a nearby farmer’s
home that also serves meals. And this was a scrumptious one, made with all
fresh and local produce.
As the children drifted away from the tables, fidgety from the parents’ conversations, a couple of moms followed them
out. There we played a few spontaneous games with the handy help of a bamboo
pole. After the moms facilitated the first few games, the children then began
to come up with their own, including hiding a flower in the vegetation for a
kind of hide and seek game. The older teenagers walked around more
independently, catching dragonflies to show to the younger children.
Now the children felt comfortable and free. At this time we decided to take a walk to the surrounding fields. It was then that
it seemed the earth opened up to us. Walking down past the water buffalos
bathing in the cool stream, and through the rice and corn and sunflower fields,
the land came alive with life. Crickets sprung from the grass lining the rice
ponds. The boys caught little frogs with their Baba (Chinese for Father). One
grandmother stooped to gather a special root famous in Guizhou dishes. The
children gathered colorful and interesting berries. We sat upon an earthen
mound and drank in the fresh air, and the simple happiness of watching our
children run free with nature.
It was soon time to go home again. We were happy with this trip. We hope to make it better and better. Hopefully,
for example, we can arrange for a bus to carry us to our destinations, if it is
outside of town. Hopefully, if we cannot guide all the people hungry for these
activities, we can at least provide tools for them to do their own nature
excursions. One of the first steps is to translate the Family Nature Toolkit on
the Children & Nature Network. In any case, we can say the movement has
arrived in Guizhou, China.