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Formosan Farmer

Revive orchard by a camera-modern farmer Lai Zhong-you

Vitality overflows in the JianMen Ecological Orchard's afternoon bloomed Mr.Lai with sunflowers and coreopsis flowers in fallow lands, while clusters of tangerines, oranges, and gold jujubes flourish at branches. In Tatsun Township, Changhua County, the orchard's four-generation owner Lai Zhong-You talked about some 20 kinds of tangerines to tourists, carrying his basic equipment, a camera, to photo everything happening on his land. Knowledge, ecology, humanity are his core value.

Drink water, thinking of its source Lai is the only member who grows tangerines in local Youth Fruit Tree Production & Marketing Program, and JianMen is the only tangerine orchard in Tatsun. The fruit's value can be low in production season, but Lai does not follow other farmers to convert into higher-value crops; "I did think so, but oranges and tangerines have been in my family's land for years…hard to give them up…" He then stripped off two oranges, full of fresh fragrance and juice.

Lai was brought up in the orchard and knows the fruit well. In the nearly five years since graduation from Shih Chien College of Home Economics, he worked in marketing. At last, he came back to the orchard and focused on managing the land where his root is.

Modernized agriculture

Since 1996 Lai returned to his hometown and accompanied his father in tangerine production, as a manager instead of former assistant. He set up future plan: strictly hanging on the production of the fruit qualified to certification of CAS Vegetables and Fruit; he built up the family brand of Bopei oranges—in the name of his father; he developed direct marketing straight to his clients; "JianMen" is his grand-father's name…'I drink water and think of its source, and this way (in name of his elders) is somehow sensitive…”

After the brand establishment, he starts combining tangerine production with ecology and agricultural life, then gradually changes "JianMen" to a leisure plantation, and making instructional slides comprised of his own pictures. Lai has shown his passion for photography, and objects ranging from plants—tangerines, fruit trees, et. al.—to animals in orchard—birds, butterflies, beetles, frogs, etc. "In their field trips here, students know more about the orchard ecosystem: how caterpillars turn into pupa; how a Chinese bulbul feeds babies; how a dragonfly eclodes …" He showed us the work today, including sunflowers, coreopsis flowers, and sparrows who shuttle across treetop; their most brilliant moments stayed in his camera.

Seize every second, and open a beautiful life

"Before narrator starts, presentation by slides would delineate the yearly abundant ecological resources, and share with tourists what they may be missing; kids tend to focus on the subject more quickly." Visitors would know more in JianMen in addition to pure recreation. Lai's dedication has won him a name in 2004 Changhua County Intensive Tourist Spots. He was also awarded the Shen-Nong [Agri-Spirit] Prize in 2005, and participated in several agricultural promotions, such as being one of the grass root diplomats to attend representatives from Switzerland and the Philippines, and a lecturer in Stray Bird Project. Lai has discovered his own way.

For those who have in interest in agriculture, here is Lai's advice "Do not rush! Pour in your own emotion and spirit. [It] shall touch yourself first, then your clients can be touched. After all, agriculture is a permanent industry, and its essence is about being a farmer…" His attentive expression mingled with the post behind on the wall “Family owned four-generation orange orchard".This is how we understand modern farmers.

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