IN CHONGMING ISLAND, CHINA The small-scale farmer is a dying breed in China, made up mostly of the elderly left behind in the mass exodus of migrant workers to much higher-paying jobs in industrial cities.
But on an island called Chongming, a two-hour drive east of Shanghai, a group of young urban professionals has begun to buck the trend. They are giving up high-paying salaries in the city and applying their business and Internet savvy to once-abandoned properties. They are trying to teach customers concepts such as eating local and sustainability. And they are spearheading a fledgling movement that has long existed in the Western world but is only beginning to emerge in modern China: green living.
“What we are trying to create is like a dream for us,” said Chen Shuaijun, a young banker who, with his wife, has rented eight acres on Chongming.
“But it is simply bizarre to everyone else,” he added, with a sigh.
Sipping coffee recently at a Shanghai Starbucks, dressed in polished black shoes and a crisply starched shirt, Chen, 30, fully embodied the success and wealth China’s new generation has found in this industrial, corporate age.
Farming runs in his family, Chen explained, going back at least seven generations, including his parents.
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