Vegetable saviors feed the people by express delivery
With more than 20 million residents, Shanghai is finding that prevention of the new coronavirus is complicated and strenuous. Governments at all levels, volunteers and ordinary citizens in about 13,000 communities have joined in the effort. Shanghai Daily reporters visited several communities to see how people are coping in the battle to control the virus at the grassroots.
Ex-serviceman Tang Jiaming never expected to become the “Vegetable Man.”
Tang is a manager of a residential complex on Huaide Road in Yangpu District. Recently, residents complained about the shortage of fresh vegetables and rumors about panic buying spread, a major headache for property managers.
“We are all in the same battle against coronavirus, but we can do more than just check people entering the complex and disinfect corridors,” he said.
Tang contacted friends in suburban Datuan Town in the Pudong New Area. While urban residents suffered shortage of provisions, Datuan farmers couldn't sell their greens. Dealers were on holiday and farmers did not want to take risk of going to wet markets.
On January 27, Tang drove to Datuan, bought 50 kilograms of greens and drove 70 kilometers back to his community.
Tang and his colleague Zhu Feng packaged the produce and stacked up boxes near the gate of the community. He delivered packages to elderly residents' doorsteps.
Tang said the whole trip had cost him about 150 yuan. Though he didn’t charge anyone, many residents insisted on paying him.
The greens were so popular that Tang set off to Datuan again on January 31. This time, he bought a wide variety of vegetables, including greens, celery, cabbage and turnips.
“Compared to greens, cabbage and turnip are easier to store,” he said. “I will be the community’s vegetable man as long as residents need vegetables.”
Back in Datuan, there is a “Vegetable Woman.”
Ma Xiaoyan, who has a B&B in Datuan, organized local peach farmers to sell organic vegetables.
“I went to a downtown supermarket on January 27, but the shelves were nearly empty, with only a few tomatoes, Meanwhile, many of my friends were complaining on WeChat that they couldn’t find fresh vegetables,” she said.
It occurred to her that peach farmers in Datuan also planted vegetables at their gardens, eating what they grew instead of buying vegetables. So, she asked them for help and posted on her WeChat Moments that she would organize deliveries to urban residents and received hundreds of orders overnight.
“We offer a variety of vegetables including turnips, cabbage and greens. Every bag contains at least 5 kilograms of mixed vegetables and is priced at 50 yuan, 25 yuan to the farmers and 25 yuan to the delivery company,” Ma said. “Farmers are offering their vegetables at low prices, and I have not charged anything.”
The next day, more than 10 farmers dispatched more than 500 kilograms of vegetables and spent the whole day packaging them. The first batch was dispatched at 9am on January 29. The farmers now receive about 50 orders each day.
“These vegetables don’t look pretty but they are 100 percent natural. We plant them on our doorsteps and we eat them ourselves. We will continue the work as long as people need our help,” one farmer said.