Fengxian village revitalized with tourist attractions

Jun 19, 2019

The initial phase of a rural tourist attraction, developed from a local Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) village, has been completed and it will soon receive tourists in a trial operation as part of the city's "rural revitalization" program.


Wufang Village in suburban Fengxian District's Qingcun Town, dating back around 300 years, has restored its old houses, dredged waterways and improved the environment while preserving its rural ambiance.


The first phase of the project covers 240,000 square meters. Under the protective planning of the China Academy of Art and the Shanghai Academy of Fine Arts, the farm and garden complex features cafes, restaurants, art studios, exhibition halls and fishing ponds.


Villagers are encouraged to rent their spare houses to the government and the buildings have been converted into homestay projects and offices for startups. The township government has relocated the villagers to newly built modern residential neighborhoods.


The villagers can receive the lease of their houses, share in the tourism project as well as payment if they get employed to serve tourists to their hometown, said Chen Jianguo, Party secretary of Qingcun Town.


"The main purpose of the rural revitalization is to increase the earnings and improve living standards of farmers," Chen told a seminar on the city's rural development strategy at the village on Tuesday. Government officials and scholars evaluated the redevelopment on Wufang and shared opinions on how to promote the experiment.


The village, known as production base for Shanghai's famed yellow peaches, has been listed as one of the first batch of nine demonstration villages to be revitalized. The campaign will be promoted to other rural villages on the city's outskirts.

The village was initially developed under orders of Emperor Daoguang to reward a local Wu family for their filial piety. A stone gateway was initially erected at the entrance to remind people to show respect when entering the village, which is deemed as one of the origins of local culture.


However, the village covering 1.99 square kilometers with 481 households later became a victim of pollution. The once-fertile farmland grew barren, while many houses were vacant after the young generation moving downtown to work.


Fengxian launched the facelift campaign in September 2018 with an investment of 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million). The village houses and roads were renovated while preserving the original elements, such as their tiles and white walls. The once-murky creeks have been dredged and purified to restore the historical ambiance of a typical water village of Jiangnan, which refers to regions south of the Yangtze River.


Some abandoned artifacts, such as milestones and plows, have been collected to decorate some houses that have become homestays or small eateries. The former ponds to raise fish and crabs have been unified for tourists to enjoy fishing contests. A century-old residential house is now a museum that tells the history of the village.


The yellow peach orchards in the village have also been upgraded. Bigger and sweeter yellow peaches are expected this summer.


"The village is expected to become an internet sensation after it begins receiving tourists from downtown and other neighboring cities," said Wang Jiandong, deputy director of Fengxian.


Several homestay villas have begun trial operations, also providing farm experiences as well as fruit-picking and fishing activities.


The city government has released another batch of 28 demonstration villages on the city's outskirt districts for the rural revitalization program.


Such rural revitalization projects in a mega-city like Shanghai will have a great influence on other rural development models nationwide, Gao Fan, a professor of economics with Fudan University, told the seminar.

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