Terraced tea garden breathes new life into poor village

HEFEI, April 7 (Xinhua) -- Ascending the stone steps of a terraced tea garden, Fang Dongyu, 68, is busy picking fresh tea leaves with other villagers as the harvest season of spring tea has started.

"We can earn over 10,000 yuan a month (1,572 U.S. dollars) during the harvest season, which was beyond imagination before," said Fang from Wugongling Village of Shexian County, east China's Anhui Province.

Located at an altitude of over 800 meters, the mountainous Wugongling was once a poor village due to the harsh farming conditions and remote location.

In the 1960s, to get rid of poverty and hunger, villagers here spent 13 years creating a terraced tea garden on barren mountains by hand with over 700 million pieces of stones.

"Men and women, old and young, all pitched in on the work. From early morning to late at night, we were working tirelessly with the ambition of bettering our lives," said Fang, who started helping build the tea garden at the age of 13 and witnessed the tea garden gradually grow from the foot of the hill to the top.

Covering an area of over 66.7 hectares, the tea garden was planted with not only tea but also corn and other grains, and greatly relieved starvation and poverty at that time.

Statistics showed that the total grain output of Wugongling hit 8.66 million kg in 1978, which was 4.6 times higher than that in 1968. The tea output and per capita net income doubled respectively during the same period.

Decades have passed and the previous struggling generation has grown old, but the spirit of struggle has been inherited and shows stronger vitality nowadays.

With the promotion of ecological planting, organic tea has been brought to the tea garden. A more profitable white tea base of over 40 hectares has also been developed, attracting young people to return home to start their own businesses.