daytripping on an organic italian farm

I often have days in Beijing when I simply want to see something green, instead of the usual smoggy, dreary urban jungle.   Luckily, last Friday I had the opportunity to visit Agrilandia, an organic Italian farm in Shunyi district on the outskirts of Beijing.

Even though it was a cold and drizzly sort of day, there were still many interesting things to be done.  My friend and I took a quick walk around the premises, visiting the fish pond and checking out the noisy chicken yard, where curiously, all the chickens were roosters.

All roosters, all the time!

We also went to the strawberry greenhouse, where American and Japanese strawberries can be hand-picked for 30 RMB/jin or 50 RMB/jin.  As I’ve never been strawberry-picking before, there was not a moment to be lost!  The secret to picking strawberries–from a fellow strawberry picker–is to select the ones that are small and red.

(I used to have a strawberry plant that produced beautiful flowers–that’s where the strawberries come from–but only about five actual strawberries.  At the time, I didn’t know when they were good to eat, so eventually my strawberries would overripen on the vine.)

Later we also explored the second greenhouse, where Italian herbs (quite rare and hard to find in China) and other fruits and vegetables were grown.   The herbs included capers, mint, Italian basil, thyme, rosemary, and others I couldn’t quite identify.  The scent in that particular greenhouse of growing plants, healthy soil, and herbs was wonderfu.

basil at Agrilandia

capers at Agrilandia

yellow tomatoes at Agrilandia

I ended up buying a potted mint plant for just 10 RMB, and it is currently growing like mad on our windowsill.  I use the mint leaves for one of my favourite teas, mint and Lady Grey, my Japanese friend’s take on Moroccan mint.

Agrilandia also has a terrific restaurant where they serve what is grown on the farm–you can’t get more local than that!  We had a buffet that included gorgeous salad greens and honey chicken; it tasted even better knowing the source of what we were eating and how they were grown.

Finally, Agrilandia also has two highly amusing illustrations for their bathrooms.



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