Xiaogucheng Village: an example of common prosperity in Zhejiang
Ever since the Chinese government designated Zhejiang Province as a demonstration zone for common prosperity, Hangzhou, the provincial capital of Zhejiang, has been making progress to build "an olive-shaped society with a large middle class, a small elite and a small lower class."
The Xiaogucheng Village in Yuhang District is considered an example for common prosperity. During the 19th Asian Games, the hamlet has attracted hordes of people by virtue of its picturesque landscape and its construction experience.
"Growing rice in paddies only couldn't increase income for farmers," said Lin Guorong, Party secretary of the village. "We must utilize our resources and figure out new ways to make money."
The village now entrusts a company that has managed 933 hectares of land owned by local farmers. This company attracts investment to run cooperatively with villagers, who then receive profits based on their land area.
Recently, as urban residents have become more interested in camping, the village seized the opportunity and created a dedicated area for pitching tents in 2021. They've also added recreational facilities for children, making it a popular destination for parents and kids to visit on weekends.
"The revenue of the camping ground keeps rising year on year. It is expected to bring over 2.5 million yuan (US$342,700) for the villagers this year," Lin said.
In addition to the camping project, Xiaogucheng Village also sought opportunities in the trendy "sharing business." Some separated land has been consolidated into shared vegetable gardens, which have enticed urban residents to rent them. By cultivating their plots, they can savor the pleasures of growing vegetables and experience a sense of connection to the land that is often missing in urban areas.
Some senior villagers prefer to plant vegetables by themselves. In a bid to help them sell freshly picked vegetables and enrich their life after retirement, the village has established unwatched food stalls at crossroads. Visitors can choose the produce and scan the QR code to pay online.
"The most popular food stall could sell produce worth around 30,000 yuan yearly," Lin said.
Xiaogucheng Village also boasts terraced tea fields producing the famous Jingshan tea. The village is nestled along the Jingshan Hill area with a profound history of planting tea trees. Today, the tea is one of the pillar industries for the village.
The Jingshan tea ceremony, including a series of performances, procedures and particular criterion for using tea leaves and vessels, was listed as a National Intangible Culture Heritage in 2011. It reached its pinnacle during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), when Hangzhou was the capital.
Differently from the modern-day drinking style, Southern Song people made finely ground powder from processed green tea. The powdered tea was brewed with a small amount of boiling water and then whipped with a small whisk till it became a mush. More boiling water was added to dilute the mush.
When people visit the village, they can view the authentic Jingshan tea ceremony performed by people clad in classical Southern Song Dynasty costumes.
The village is also taking advantage of livestreaming to promote their tea. Customers can buy products during livestreams and have it delivered to their homes. The village also established a livestream studio, training villagers to sell products online, with priority given to women who run farms. Streamers display the quality of tealeaves and showcase their brewing skills via livestreams.
For villagers who moved downtown, the village has transformed their houses into guesthouses and small eateries, providing comfortable accommodation and delicious local fare.