I moved back to enjoy life
Zeng Xianfu, 44, forest farm owner in Changting county, East China's Fujian province. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]
I was born and raised in Hetian, a town in Changting county, East China's Fujian province. In my childhood and youth, the county had serious problems with water loss and soil erosion. All I could see were barren mountains, muddy water and infertile farmland.
I thought the place was unlikely to improve, so I worked hard at school to get into a university elsewhere.
In 1996, I enrolled as a computer technology major at a university in Harbin, capital of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. In 2002, I started working in Beijing as a network security engineer.
In 2010, for the first time, I realized that my old home was becoming cleaner.
The air was fresh, so I felt comfortable staying in Changting. I heard that the change was the result of a policy to aid an afforestation program that had closed the mountains to prevent grazing and wood gathering.
At the time, I always worked overtime and went on business trips for nine months of the year to maintain customer relations and train personnel. If I wanted to relax amid natural scenery, I went to the Beijing suburbs.
In 2017, I was tired of my work, both physically and mentally, so I returned to Changting to start a forest farm. I had planned to return and open a farm when I retired, but later I realized that agriculture required more energy than I had thought. If I wanted to achieve something in this field, I had to start as a young, energetic person.
I am good at internet technology, and Changting has beautiful natural resources and renovated roads that lead to cities. So, why not take advantage of my major to start a career that I really like?
To help relieve the pressure felt by people in big cities, I plant polygala arillata, a shrub used in traditional Chinese medicine, and I sell it online. I did a lot of research and was sure that the plant could bring health benefits to urban residents and profits to the villagers.
Four years ago, I put my savings of 8 million yuan ($1.2 million) into about 120 hectares of land. I also planted pine trees, which I will use to build log cabins for tourism.
Local forestry experts taught me some planting techniques and soil and water conservation methods. Now, 119 households in my town plant the shrub, and I am responsible for collecting their produce for sale in addition to my own.
Before, I was too busy to be with my family. Now, my wife and my two daughters, ages 13 and 8, have moved from Beijing, and we live together in the county.
Over the years, the environment in Changting has improved, which has boosted my confidence about investing more money in the place.
Zeng Xianfu spoke with Li Hongyang.