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'Money trees' bring prosperity to small community

By XING YI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-07 07:39
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A garden of boxwood trees in Yuanyi village, where 85 percent of the 790 households cultivate 66 hectares of the trees.  XING YI/CHINA DAILY

Mao Jinchang first picked up the hobby of growing boxwood, a classic garden shrub, in 1981, when he was still driving trucks for the Chongming Agricultural Grain and Oil Co.

The decision to do so was purely driven by an interest in gardening. Mao says that looking at the evergreen plant also makes him feel happy.

Today, growing boxwood in his village in Chongming, an island district of Shanghai, has become more than a source of joy-it is the source of his windfall.

"I started taking this hobby more seriously when I retired in 2015. Back then, I had about 600 square meters worth of boxwood," Mao says.

"Today, I have 1,000 boxwood trees in a field measuring more than 2,500 square meters."

A regular boxwood tree grows around 1.5 meters high and is shaped like a sphere. But the ones that Mao cultivates are taller and have more branches, each of which is pruned into a small green ball.

In the first half of this year, the 66-year-old retiree earned 200,000 yuan ($28,600) from the sale of more than a dozen boxwood trees.

Mao is not the only person selling boxwood in his village, which is called Yuanyi Cun, or horticulture village. As the name suggests, nearly everyone in the village is involved in the horticulture business one way or another.

"I am just a small, independent farmer. There are people in our village planting boxwood in an area that is five times larger than mine," he quips.

Previously a horticultural farm founded in 1958, Yuanyi Cun got its name when it merged with a nearby village in 2004.

Dong Hui, Party chief of the village, says more than 85 percent of the 790 households in the village cultivate around 66 hectares of boxwood trees and 20 hectares of flowers.

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