CHINA-choosing my paradise to be. Permaculture in China. Asia

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself Here' started by kelvinator3000, May 20, 2010.

  1. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Hello everyone. Im a 26 year old (27 next month) UK citizen from the midlands called Kelvin. Iv been living in china for a year and half and am married to an AMAZING Chinese woman called Xiao Gao. Luckily for me she is interested in permaculture and is willing to support me in buying/renting land and building our own self-sustaining natural materials house. The reason i say lucky for me is that 99.9 percent of chinese people are trying to flee the farm lands in search of prosperity in the citys with urban jobs and environment destroying homes with all the mod cons.

    I am not an expert on chinese permaculture yet but from what iv seen and what i can find out, there are not many farmers that are using self-sustaining permaculture methods. Most-like the weston farmers-are bleeding the land by over plowing etc, loosing all the top soil and nutrients so the farm lands are dead. Lucky for them prices are still allowing them to use the chemical fertilizers.

    Anyway, i am looking at sites with which to start my project. I am thinking about Hunan. My best friends home town would be perfect. Its a tropical (or maybe semi tropical?) area with fresh mountain water to drink coming off the mountian. For a while now people have been moving away from the area to move to cities and the sites I will be looking at havent been used in a long long long time so it is lush with trees and vegetation. Water in this area is plentiful and there is lots of sun. The people of the little villiage also are very natural in their living styles and there is almost not pollution there because of the environment friendly way they live.

    The only pics i have are of my friend the last time he went, but i will be going in july or august and can get some pics of the exact areas i can choose from. The villiage is settled on the side and base of a mountain. These is a tunnel running through the mountain that takes a couple of hours to go through to get to the other side. And that, is where I will choose my site from. The whole area has NO ONE there and is brimming with life, all the way nature intended.

    It all sounds lovely and would be a perfect peaceful place to live out my life BUT...i also feel a little bad that its not an area that actually needs my help. I know there are many people and communities starting perma projects that can show other people what can be achieved by using clever design etc, which will inspire others to try. Often the transformation of an area void of life changing into an area bursting with wildlife and edible food and beautiful flowers will amaze them and teach them how to do it themselves. So i feel a little guilty that im thinking of choosing a place thats already full of life, and it also isn’t close a huge city so that people can just pop along and check it out to be inspired. They would prob have to come and stay for a night or two to check it out.

    What are your thoughts? In china they really need to learn permaculture ways of gardening and farming. Should i try to organise a project that will inspire people in places like Beijing etc? Or choose a paradise place that has all the perfect conditions to successfully produce a perma garden/farm? Maybe I can still encourage others to come and see and teach others how to design and build a perma environment?

    Id also like to know-are there any projects happening in china that i can go help with or visit? Are there any others who would like to join me in choosing a place to cultivate a small community?

    Id really appreciate your comments and thoughts.

    Kind regards

    Kelvin (凯文-my chinese name)

    Some photos wouldnt upload but these are a few of them. When i go in july or august im sure i will get better ones!
    View attachment 689 View attachment 690 View attachment 691 View attachment 692 View attachment 693
     

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  2. abdullah

    abdullah Junior Member

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    KELVIN, mate, you can have your cake, eat it, AND not feel guilty, buy your plot, design it well, if there are local permies ask their advice, fill it with perennial plants and sustainable systems, then open it as a model AND then travel about china teaching and demonstrating permaculture and sustainability, since your plot is perennial and hopefully based on natural systems you should be able to come and go and there will always be something to eat, and if you decide to stay put then the more effort you put in the more yield, what a great life.

    i highly recommend geoff lawtons DVD 'establishing a food forest the permaculture way' very relevant for you i would say.

    oh how i wish i could join you there, but i feel my calling is elsewhere, though keep us posted on your progress and maybe if im in the neighbourhood we can catch up over a cup of [insert exotic fruit juice here].
     
  3. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Ok, I will give you a heads up of which tropical fruit juices are on the menu before you come haha.

    Im feeling happy today because this friend of mine talked with his girlfriend last night and she also supports him to return there and start a perma project with me. This is a big thing because like i said before-almost everyone in china is looking to move to and stay in the cities trying to earn money and become wealthy giving no thought to whether this economical system is sustainable or not (not singling out china here, i know most people are like this. Also myself until recently!)

    So its likely now, that there will be 4 of us moving there to start the project and help each other.

    I think i will have my cake and eat it as you said! Then in the future when ready, i can invite others to come see and learn, and also travel around teaching others.

    It is such a nice feeling to think that i will soon live in beautiful surroundings, eating natural nutrient packed foods whilst leaving no waste and so little carbon foot print. One of my favourate aspects of being out in the natural environment is being able to look up at the stars at night and see them so clearly and perfectly. Very inspiring to see!
     
  4. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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  5. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Iv just looked at the site you posted-thanks for those and all the pics that went with it. I think you must have really enjoyed your time here! Im a little busy now but i want to come back and have another look tonight at what you posted.

    Your completely right about them being apportioned land in one "mu" blocks. They often use less carbon intensive farming because of this-it wouldn't make sense to use tractors on such small areas that are often harder for big vehicles to access. Some still use animals to help plow etc. This is because among other things, these can have offspring which can be sold. Some even animal share, for example one family one will feed the cow for a month, then another family will feed the cow for a month. Then when its time to use the cow, they share the use. We should remember though, that china is a massive country, and every village town and city will have different cultures within it and have different farming methods too. But almost all are still using chemical fertilizers for the fields etc.


    Thanks for the support Pebble, and btw, do you still have any contact details for someone i can talk to in china regarding perma projects or those with experience? Iv not had much luck finding any yet.
     
  6. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    That's not my blog Kelvin (I haven't been to China), but the person who wrote has been to China and I'd suggest contacting them.

    Also in the other link are several people, including one in China currently:

     
  7. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Iv got in and started having a look at the posts properly and i can see what you mean. I will try to make contact.

    I hope you have a chance to visit china soon. I love living here and your always welcome to come visit once my land is started!
     
  8. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Im now considering popping back to the uk to do some wwoofing to get some experience and see some of the perma systems they are using. i want to see all the different methods that are available with the aim of coming back to china to start using it. Even though my wife supports me she still asks that i use my perma project to earn enough money for the family so we can still take care of things like children, hospital visiting parents etc. So sadly i might not be able to choose Hunan since its about 3 hours away from a city and this makes it harder selling anything. I might have to choose a sight that is closer to a bigger city where it is easier to sell produce and easier to arrange people to come visit etc. The uk seems a little better suited to this because your never far away from civilization however i must come back to china after my training. Some places here it might take 3 hours to the closest city and thats using the only road there is, not so convenient. Its a pitty because id love to choose the place that has the more natural and beautiful surroundings.
     
  9. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Change of plan. Not going back to the uk for wwoofing now. Instead in about 3 weeks my wife and i will be going to yunnan and hainan to research the landscapes and decide which suits us better. We will be gone just over a month so can spend about 20 days in each province. Not much time really but it can give us an idea of prices of land and we can get a feel for which area will be more suitable for us to live in. Then we will come back to beijing and save more money. Maybe a year or so after that we will make a commitment to move to the province we most like.
     
  10. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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  11. Tropical food forest

    Tropical food forest Junior Member

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    Im envious Kevin

    dont worry about studying wwoofing in the 'first world'
    we dont know anything. Our whole lives are subsidised

    with good observation youll learn so much from the old farmers
    but youll have to tease the functionality from the doing to be able to use it in design

    you are a lucky lucky man!
    green with envy
     
  12. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Thanks for the link Pebble-i just sent a message asking if i can meet him while im going through yunnan.

    He might be able to give us some useful info and help us get a feel of the place since he's been there a while now.

    Cheers for the tip!
     
  13. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Thanks tropical food forest. We accidentally found a 100 or more acre forest farm in the middle of beijing yesterday. It felt really odd to be walking in a concrete jungle then to suddenly venture into an enveloping man made forest. Their main purpose is to raise and sell assorted trees and bamboo, but the rich in years lady workers were telling my wife and I a little about how they grow their own food and the best way to pick and it etc. Made us long to have our own space where we can do it.
    But what you just said makes me remember that in general, everyone has a part of them that enjoys to be a teacher when a good student appears. So i hope that like you said, with some book knowledge and help from friendly farmers as well as watching the land we can learn and start to make progress once we are settled on a site!
     
  14. wenshidi

    wenshidi Junior Member

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    Let me know if I can be of any help. I just spent three weeks doing similar scouting in the south of Hainan. In addition, I usually spend most of the summer somewhere in Yunnan, so I could perhaps help out with a few locations up there too. Feel free to ask.

    Chris
     
  15. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Hey Chris.
    That offer sounds great-i will take you up on it straight away!
    What were you scouting for in hainan? Can you tell me about your findings in hainan and whether you have any thoughts about yunnan that might be useful for us to consider?
    This will be our first trip to both places. We want to find out things like which is most suitable to sustaining a permaculture project? Which do you think is the most preferable for weather in the long run(hainan might be hellishly hot-which is ok, but i get the feeling yunnan has very pleasant weather and might be more comfortable). We should choose a place that is relatively safe drom the government-ie not a place that will be turned into a block of flats the next year! How do you feel they compare for pollution? Prices for land vary from place to place, rural to urban, but how does the price per acre in hainan compare to yunnan. Which place do you like most and why?
    There are lots of questions id like to know. Can you share some background about yourself and why your looking there? Whats your feeling for the two different regions? Are you looking to start your own project there? are you westerner or chinese?

    Lots of questions haha, sorry...but you did say i could ask away;)
     
  16. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    A big thanks to Chris for getting in contact.
    To anyone reading, we are travelling on the 15th to Yunnan to start our scouting. We are taking the not so tourist route so that we can see some sites with potential for long term renting/or buying. Our plan is to record our day to day happenings into a diary so others who are interested will be able to use the information. Maybe some others will be inspired to follow and make their own paradise there. We are going to be meeting Chris in Dali after spending a couple of days in Kunming by ourselves, and then we will go to see keith and bob in Lijiang, Im happy we can have their help as they are all experienced veterans. With their help i think this will be more informative and more of a directed and functioning holiday-as opposed to our original plan which was to go to tourist sites and hope we happen upon villages that might suit our goal.
    If anyone else can help or give info that might make our trip even more successful then please let us know!
     
  17. sourdoughmudmaven

    sourdoughmudmaven Junior Member

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    My Dream Exactly

    I have studied and traveled in china, and have been practicing and studying permaculture for a number of years in America and abroad. I have always dreamed of settling in china and doing agricultural outreach. I would love to be in further contact... maybe some collaboration is in order, or I would just love to keep in touch so that I can hear about your successes/failures. I am looking into returning to china in the near future, perhaps to teach English, but am oh so open to whatever life offers. Hope to hear from you soon,
    Tiffany Grell
    Boulder Co
     
  18. 9anda1f

    9anda1f Administrator Staff Member

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    Welcome Tiffany - Hope you're being missed by the wildfires near Boulder!

    It appears that you may be able to make some good contacts! Now all we have to do is wait till they return from their scouting mission and find you here.

    (... I can't stand the suspense~)

    = )
    Bill
     
  19. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Hello everyone. I havent been on for a while what with so things going on. To fill in what happened with regard finding our paradise...we found it...but alas it wasnt meant to be just yet.
    We went to yunnan for our honeymoon. It wasnt a typical honeymoon to be honest because we were intent on using the time to travel around and find an area which had land availible for us to use!
    Once we got there we met chris who was a contact i met through this sight. He was really helpful and took us around da li with him checking places out. We then went to li jiang to meet a man some refer to as the mayor of li jiang. A very kind western man called keith. He was rediculously knowledgeful about the going ons of li jiang and introduced us to lots of people. Sadly though with all that help we still didnt find anything that suited our price range or idea of what would be a paradise. Then one night while i was checking out a little bed and breakfast close to ours i met a guest called franklin . He is a great man who is full of life. He is living in li jiang with his wife and 3 children and he just happened to know all the right places with by far the most beauty by far the best prices.This is because he had spent a year there searching in his 4by4 for exactly the same place. The places he showed us were further out than we had been trying since we had no car, but these villages were perfectly connected to the city via a new road that passed close by.
    The village we settled on has a total of about 13 courtyard houses. Thats it!! And the rest was rolling valley and surrounded by mountains. In fact it was ON the side of a mountain! Iv tried to put some pics on but they are all to high quality. So If you want just ask and put your email. Iv got some great ones to send if you’d like to see them.
    Anyway, It was all going well, we got the contract sorted with the owners who were locals. And agreed on a 20 year renting. The place was amazing by anyones standards. Some acres of land, with an already established orchard, surrounded by a landscape which was so natural.
    Anyway, we agreed a date that they should move out by and this is when the problem came. I will be very honest so others are warned about similar situations before they proceed. When the date arrived for them to move out and we will pay, they told us they cant move out with out the money all in advance. The original agreement was to first pay 20,000 rmb for them moving, then the further 70,000 after we were in. But they insisted they couldnt move unless they had all the money upfront. Sadly for this family we happened to know the people who had rented his brothers courtyard house, and we knew that that family had blown the first 20,000 given them, And then asked for more money and promised to be moved out on time. My friend was living close by so they paid the full amount. But after 2or3months the family was still living there and had made very little effort to move out. Knowing this we just decided its better to leave this one alone. Not worth the risk if they try to give us trouble like his brother.
    I would still recommend trying the many beautiful villages around li jiang if you want to settle. Its better if you can live there and do it so you can be more hands on. I was still working and planned to come out after some months, which made it harder to trust the owners as we couldnt be there to keep an eye on things.

    Sadly though, one thing that seems impossible to do anywhere in china is to buy land for life. In places like Li Jiang, the government only allows wetoners and in fact other chinese people to rent from the minority people that own the lands. The parts of Li Jiang that are apartments can be owned for 70 years of course, but for obvious reasons they lack appeal. I would actually like to know that after cultivating a place for 20 years, i wouldnt be forced out because the contract has ended. So whether i should consider another country or not now i dont know.
    My wife and I are currently still saving money in shen zhen china, and i would love to buy land to follow this dream.
     
  20. kelvinator3000

    kelvinator3000 Junior Member

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    Sorry everyone. I noticed i wrote some price information incorrectly. We was supposed to write i should have given the owners 20 as a deposit and then paid the 270,000 when we moved in. If you want to rent land and a house there it will cost around 20,000 to 30,000 rmb per year. and owners normally ask for the first 10 years up front.
     

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