Grandma Gao

This week we had the opportunity to visit the Gao family farm in Anlong village. The farm is completely organic using zero chemicals and local water sources. Nothing goes to waste at the farm- everything is utilized to go back towards the produce, making the farm completely self sustainable. When we say nothing is wasted we really mean nothing is wasted – from the food scraps to human waste- it’s all used!

Table for 3

Skye Whitney and Steph

We had a great experience & met some great members in the Gao family- standing out the most: Grandma Gao! She was always offering & cutting up fresh fruit from the farm for us and telling us to eat up. She also shared many stories of wisdom – of which our cultural guide Alex translated for us. She taught lessons of how to live a simple, happy, & energetic life. She always had a smile on her face & never seemed to sit down, rest or get tired. The language barrier never seemed to phase grandma Gao, or really anyone in the family for that matter, they were all eager to teach us about the farm & have us as their guests.

They gave so much to us but we wanted to give back as well- a true balanced ecosystem. We helped to pick some of the vegetables from the garden and laid pavers as the floor of the new tea house they were opening. The tea house would bring families out to the farm to socialize by the river, educating them about the farm and enjoy some homemade fresh tea made entirely from herbs around the farm. This is a custom very well known to the people of China -taking time in the middle of their days to talk with others over tea. This is a custom that was very unfamiliar to Americans -It helped us to be aware that their are different lifestyles and it’s important to sometimes slow things down & just learn from those around you- a very enjoyable custom 🙂

Society has developed such fast paced lifestyles…we use frozen quick meals and don’t always feel we have time to make a sustainable meal, often forgetting the importance of vegetables & then not thinking about the harm the jelly from a peanut butter & jelly might have had on the environment – the pesticides & processing that went into making our “quick and easy” meal.
Not only have the cities of China taken on this change but the United States as well. It’s important as adults and educators to look at how we are teaching preservation of these values. If we are not teaching empathy towards the environment and animals than what values are we teaching? In China we have learned that educating the youth here is one of the strongest opportunities to make change and develop a sense of community and working towards a better world to help others as well.

At the farm we often found ourselves observing the family dynamic. We made the comparison of how grandma Gao had many characteristics similar to a grandmother in the states. We also noticed the family dynamic between siblings, which was something we didn’t necessarily expect to see because of the one child policy. Grandma Gao has 4 children of which 3 were present at the farm during our visit. Each child played a role in the family & on the farm. Each child contributed in a major way to the farm, which grandma & grandpa could not. You could tell which child was the eldest & which was the youngest just by their interactions- we later confirmed our hypothesis was correct with Alex (cultural guide).

We contemplated the dilemma of the one child policy. This policy was implemented back in 1979 and was just lifted December 2013. The dilemma being that organic farming is the better option & certain roles need to be filled in order to successfully complete a farm like this, but could organic farming sustain a country with a billion people? A country whose population will continue to grow now that this policy has been lifted.Food for thought and we hope you keep reading our blog from China!


This week we’re working at the panda base and will also be visiting the Love Home, an animal shelter in Chengdu. More on that later.

Signing off from China,

Table for 3, Skye, Whitney, and Steph

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