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Be farmer or fisher for day on city's outskirts
By Jiang Xinhua

BORED with living in a crowded city, a growing number of people are looking to find peace, fresh air and blue skies for a few days this summer.

Some nearby spots offer more than just a refreshing weekend trip or short vacation, but also a chance to eat food directly from a farm.

There are many organic vegetable farms on the outskirts of the city where people can pick the freshest seasonal organic vegetables, enjoy a bit of the happy fishermen's lifestyle, design their own polymer clay creations, practice yoga and tai chi in the open air and go cycling in rural areas with a stop to pick fruit. Here are some recommended locations.

Mahota Farm

Mahota Farm at Sun Island Resorts covers 27,000 square meters. Its "Love & Laugh" team, which shares health and happiness tips, prepares a personalized plan that includes growing and picking vegetables, creating herb and mini-pot arrangements, baking healthy scones, making jam from freshly picked fruits and practicing yoga in the open air.

One of the highlights is Kelong fishing developed in Malaysia. The word refers to a cluster of Southeast Asian style wooden houses built over water. You can jump from the platform in the water to catch fish with hand nets. You can try your own harvest after that as chefs prepare mini hotpot and barbecue with freshly picked vegetables and fish.

Mahota Farm aims to help people lead a healthy and balanced life. Its core concept is taken from "The Book of Changes," which is a classic Chinese text containing a sophisticated divination system and the key philosophical concept of yin and yang.

Address: 2588 Shentai Road, Zhujiajiao Town, Qingpu District

Tel: 6186-9688

Tomato Farm

The Tomato Farm offers a chance to live like a farmer for a few days.

The 27,000-square-meter farm also offers a chance to experience Chinese ethnic minority villages including homes of south China's Miao, the Mongolian yurt and Tibetan hut. You can experience a different culture without taking a long trip. Although the houses are "old" on the outside, inside they have many amenities.

The one-day farmer experience starts with getting up with the roosters. With the help of experienced farmers, you learn how to plant seeds, apply fertilizer, water vegetables and feed the pigs, ducks and geese. At night, you can enjoy folk dancing, a bonfire party and an open-air karaoke contest.

Address: 1600 Yexinzhi Road, Wuku Town, Songjiang DistrictTel: 5888-5220

Design Harvests

Design Harvests is expected to become another popular eco-tourism stop on Chongming Island.

Covering 19,000 square meters, the farm grows rice and organic vegetables and has six multi-functional greenhouses. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are banned. The farm stresses holistic development and interrelationships between soil, plants and animals to create a self-sustaining system.

The farm gives DIY classes of bamboo weaving and shoulder pole play - which is a kind of folk drama.

You can also transplant rice seedlings in the fields. When harvest season comes, you will be invited to pick your own plant and see a video of how it grew. It is also a good opportunity for children to learn the value of food.

Address: 963 Xianqiao Road M., Shuxin Town, Chongming Island

Tel: 3509-3205

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164