Aug 22, 2016
Are you interested in organic food products? When we arrived in Suzhou six years ago, there only appeared to be a very limited choice of organic products available. At that time, I enjoyed going to the local wet market and buying vegetables and fruits there, as it was really interesting to see what they sold, and I loved communicating with people in the local market in Chinese. But after I got pregnant with my daughter, I became a bit more sensitive about food. I thought carefully about what I was eating and drinking, and the effect my diet might have on my baby. It was then that I started to buy some organic vegetables to cook at home. Compared to a few years ago, there are currently many more choices for organic grocery shopping in Suzhou, as well as quite a few websites for online food shopping that sell organic produce. However, to be honest, buying organic products for everything is too expensive for me. What I usually do is just buy organic for vegetables I use in salads, especially leaf vegetables, or those that I cook with the skin on.
If you are also interested in organic products, I would like to recommend a place to visit near Suzhou where you can see where some of these come from. In my previous column entry, I introduced a nice five star hotel, the Fairmont Yangcheng Lake Hotel, as a good place to stay with kids. However, I didn’t mention there is an organic farm next to the hotel.
The name of this organic farm is “Yue Feng Island Organic Farm”. It takes only five or ten minutes to walk there from the hotel along a scenic lakeside pathway. There is an observation deck on the way from which you can enjoy the beautiful view and nature. The farm is quite large; they produce organic vegetables and fruits all year around, and even have twenty-five bee hives! All of their produce can be tasted at a restaurant in the farm, as well as the restaurants in the Fairmont hotel. I enjoyed eating some of their vegetables at the hotel’s breakfast buffet in the morning, as well as their honey, which was served from an actual honeycomb.
Apart from eating organic food, there are other activities you can participate in too. If you like cooking, there is a class where you can learn how to cook the organic vegetables from the farm. One of my friends and her family also went on a tour with a guide who speaks in English. They had a good time picking vegetables, feeding goats, driving around the farm in a golf cart, learning how to make some Chinese sweets, and (of course) eating some organic food in the farm restaurant.
With regard to activities that kids will enjoy, options available include fishing, feeding the goats, and petting small animals. My daughter really enjoyed petting a rabbit in the farm, and since then she has become a big fan of rabbits! She also enjoyed the play area for kids that they have, where she could run around and play safely. Additionally, you can rent bicycles with child carriages from the hotel, so you can cycle around the farm as a family.
I think Yue Feng island is a great place to show kids how vegetables grow, and to give them the chance to really experience nature. For adults too, it is very relaxing to be away from concrete buildings and to enjoy a natural environment and healthy diet with your family or friends.
About the Column
Kaori is from Fukuoka, Japan and she moved to Suzhou with her British husband in 2010. She gave birth to a baby girl in Shanghai in 2014 and is currently a full-time mother, but previously studied Chinese at Suzhou University. Kaori enjoys going for walks, going out for meals, shopping on Taobao and visiting new places in China. Places she has particularly enjoyed visiting include Harbin, Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Moganshan, Guilin and Yangshuo. She also loves to explore different areas of Suzhou, both old and new.