Guo Fanghua (China)

Guo was not from a peasant background nor had she any experience in cultivation, yet she had transformed a weedy cotton field into a large organic vegetable farm.

She had lived in her home village during childhood but then went to Tianjin and rarely gone back since. After more than 30 years when she went on a visit she found it in bad shape. She was told the village had lacked industries and would still engage only in traditional crops. Younger people had mostly gone to work in factories and older ones were unwanted. It was surprising to her given the village’s proximity to the nearby prosperous town of Daqiuzhuang in Tianjin.

She herself had been a relatively successful small entrepreneur, being obliged to start her own business after being laid off at around 40. She had nothing to start with and could only become a hawker. Later she rented a small shop in Daiqiuzhuang and started selling bathroom accessories, and then grew and expanded into other products. One of her customers was a large vegetable grower in Shandong, buying steel beams for vegetable sheds. She knew that the peasants were quite prosperous doing this and made the decision to start an organic vegetable farming base. She invested all of her savings into it.

Although many people were skeptical due to her lack of experience and her age, yet she had proved herself correct. Since hers was the first organic vegetable base in the region, she had been given wide publicity right from the start. At that rate, she expected to be paid back in less than two years. Her vision was to start the organic vegetable base by herself and once it worked out, that would attract more people into it and that in turn would improve their livelihood.

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