Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday in China

According to the Chinese, SDARL Class 6 are now heroes as members scaled the Great Wall and came away with certificates to prove it.

As far as agriculture, the day started by visiting the site for the 7th International Strawberry Festival that will be held in Beijing later in the month.  This was described as the Olympics for strawberry producers.  The class toured the new facilities and heard descriptions of the growing systems.  On display will be 135 varieties of strawberries.  Bees from Germany are used in the pollination of the plants.

The class visited a vegetable wholesaler.  Mr. Lin's company provides produce to 140 specialty markets in Beijing.  Each day 20 tons, on average, of 80 vegetables are distributed.  Safety control is the biggest concern.  The government checks to see how much fertilizer and pesticides are applied before produce can be harvested.

The workers at the plant begin processing the product around noon.  Work continues until about midnight when the trucks head out to provide the fresh produce.  Only 3.4 % of what they produce is organic as it takes more time and effort.  The operation runs on 200 acres which is owned by the government.  The one-child policy has made it harder to find workers so more is being done with mechanical means.  New machines are being used to track the conditions in the fields where the crops are grown.

In addition to the supermarkets, some deliveries of fresh produce are made to customers.  A discussion followed comparing the price of land vs the price of land in South Dakota.

The red carpet was rolled out and signs were strung, welcoming the class to the Emperor Hospital of Femur Head Necrosis.  A young South Dakotan, Ty Eschenbaum, has visited the facility a number of times for traditional Chinese treatments for his joints.  Dr. Ke Qin Huang, Director of the hospital and the staff warmly welcomed the South Dakotans to the facility.  Dr. Huang and his daughter Angel Huang who is the Chief Operating Officer, shared information about work being done at the hospital and Dr. Huang explained the techniques used to help the patient recover use of his/her joints without reverting to surgery.  Zhou Ling, Director of the Chanking District people's Government of Beijing joined in welcoming the SDARL members. Ty had befriended a number of young children who go through the treatment.  The class pooled resources to present a gift to Ty to help those in need.  Ty has been getting treatments in China for the ast 4 years.

The people of the hospital hosted Class 6 for a true Chinese dinner.  Seated at a table about 27 feet across with a huge lazy susan, 72 different types of Chinese food were presented for the pleasure of the class.

"He who does not reach the great Wall is not a true man."  And the Chinese also say that when you climb the Great Wall, you are a hero.  Class members climbed sections of the and several reached the highest vistas in our time alloted.  The ancient steps are about 2600 years old and run about 4,000.  It was used to keep out invaders.  Varied step sizes and steep climbs make for a challenging hike.  Viewing the Great Wall and taking in the history while standing on those parapets was fascinating.

On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at the Shui Tun Shi Chang market in the Chenging District. Producers bring their products to this location and sell fruits, vegetables, flour, oils and other items.  Class members learned about several types of products, including Dragon Fruit, pamelos and Chinese kiwis.  Many of the outdoor booths were covered with heavy blankets.  Some had stationanry settings with steel doors that could be pulled down at night for security.  Most of the produce is raised in greenhouses or in southern areas and brought to this location to be sold and distributed.

The market has been going since 1996 and does business of about 30 million yuan a year.

Connie Groop, Reporter