A kiwifruit a day keeps the doctor away. That old saying may be more attributable to apples, but the fuzzy little kiwi is dubbed “king of fruit” by some, as it is rich in amino acids, mineral substances and vitamins.
Scientists believe that its abundant nutrition, especially with vitamin C, can lower cholesterol and blood pressure. In addition, when people have heartburn or acid reflux, a glass of kiwi juice can smooth the discomfort.
Kiwi is also a natural antioxidant that can cure skin allergies and reduce facial wrinkles. It’s therefore popular among women and is among the fruit market favorites despite its slightly higher price tag compared to many other fruits.
Kiwi’s other name — Chinese gooseberry — implies it originated in China. Although kiwis produced in New Zealand enjoy worldwide fame and dominate the market, the fruit first came from northern China and then spread to the Southern Hemisphere in the early 20th century. New Zealanders renamed the fruit after the kiwi bird because its appearance bares a resemblance to the country’s national symbol.
During World War II, kiwis were exported to California, which now also grows them commercially.
Kiwis become ripe in late August. Zhejiang Province boasts a couple of kiwi cultivation plantations that produce quality, succulent kiwis and admit guests who want to pick kiwifruits themselves. Some plantations let tourists enter free, charging them only for the fruit they pick.
Alongside some of these plantations are local scenic spots worthy of visiting. Shanghai Daily takes a look at three Zhejiang counties specializing in cultivating kiwis, where you can take a self-driving tour on weekends and enjoy the fun of plucking kiwis.
Shangyu County 上虞县
Shangyu County is situated between Hangzhou and Ningbo and lies across the Qiantang River from Shanghai.
The environment and temperature there is suitable for a rich array of fruits. Crops include strawberries and cherries in spring, waxberries and grapes in summer, kiwis and peaches in autumn and persimmons in winter. The total fruit-growing area of Shangyu is 67 square kilometers, and the fruit yield is 225,000 tons annually.
The kiwis produced from Shangyu are distinguished from others by their high quality and strong sweet taste. Although some fetch as much as 12 yuan (US$1.95) apiece, the sales volume remains huge every year.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway—Changzhou-Taizhou Expressway—Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway
Pan’an County 磐安县
Pan’an is situated in the middle of Zhejiang Province. As the source of the Qianjiang, Ou, Ling and Cao’e rivers, it features high altitude and large temperature fluctuations — advantageous conditions for growing kiwis.
In recent years, Pan’an farmers have begun to cultivate the red kiwi variety. In addition to the cultivated kiwis, Pan’an features a batch of wild kiwi trees. In Zaozhiban Village, Shuangxi Town, natives climb mountains to reap the ripe, fragrant kiwis, most of which they sell. Each family is permitted to pick 25 kilograms a day during late August and early September.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway—Changzhou-Taizhou Expressway—Shaoxing-Zhuji Expressway—Zhuji-Yongjia Expressway
Jiangshan County 江山县
Jiangshan, in the west of Zhejiang Province, is titled “home to kiwi” in China, and for farmers there, it’s a major commercial crop.
Today, Jiangshan boasts a kiwi cultivation area of 3,333 hectares, which is among the top producers in southern China. Its yearly output of kiwi can reach 6,000 tons, and 13,000 households are involved in the industry. The county owns a kiwi industrial chain that includes kiwi wine, preserved kiwi and other products. All of the kiwi trees in Jiangshan County are planted on the Xianxia mountain range that houses the Xianxia National Forest Park. The unpolluted soil and fresh air endows the kiwi with soft texture and mellow taste.
Besides the fuzzy kiwis, Jiangshan also boasts Mount Jianglang — a World Natural Heritage site listed by the UNESCO in 2010. The mountain typifies the classical Danxia landform, which is characterized by steep cliffs similar to karst topography. Visitors should not miss it when picking kiwis in Jiangshan County.
How to get there: Shanghai-Kunming Expressway—Hangzhou-Jinhua-Quzhou Expressway—Changchun-Shenzhen Expressway—Hangzhou-Xin’anjiang-Jingdezheng Expressway—Longyou-Lishui-Wenzhou Expressway—Beijing-Taipei Expressway