by Claire H., member of the HS GIN student BioFarm team
The BioFarm, upon first glance, seems to look more like a miniature village than anything.
There are battered cobblestone paths that twine together and then diverge in different directions, converging again at what looks like a homemade compass consisting of a wooden pole with arrows that point North, South, East, and West.
‘Gift Shop (100 m)’ one of the plaques reads, urging visitors to continue along the main path. The one below it boasts, ‘Botanical Gardens (>100 m),’ and points slightly to the left.
Our job here is simple: to get a feel for the BioFarm and what it contributes to the conversation of organic farming.
And then, secondarily, with cartoonishly oversized gardening gloves hastily pulled onto our hands, to clear a section of the sidewalk of any overgrown weeds.
An hour of uncomfortable squatting later, and we’ve managed to complete about 30% of our assigned mission. I resist the urge to wipe at the sweat on my forehead, if only for the fact that my once pristine white gloves are covered in dirt now.
Still, the BioFarm workers are no less hospitable after witnessing our lack of manual labor skills. They bring us three mugs of steaming chamomile tea, and tell us all about the work that they have done and are doing here at the BioFarm.
The BioFarm is a big advocate for organic goods here in Shanghai, and there is a commitment to cultivating one hundred percent organic products. The pesticide-free policy means that there are less artificial chemicals in the soil, which is not only good news for consumers who get to eat the nutrient-packed products of their labor, but it also means that the habitat is safer for animals and insects.
Eleven years ago, the founders of the BioFarm stood facing 32 acres of near-desolate land. Today, through rigorous practices of crop rotation, interspecies crossing, and intercropping to protect the fields, the BioFarm is a paragon of responsible and safe farming practices.
Their mission to rehabilitate the degraded ecosystem here in Shanghai and to restore the natural state of biodiversity to our environment has come a long way, and is still ongoing. It is our duty as active members of the school community and people who reap the benefits of the environment around us every day, to do everything within our power to help the BioFarm in their journey towards restoring balance to the ecosystem.