On a recent trip to China, FreshPlaza was invited to go along and see a greenhouse complex near Lang Fang City in Hebei Province. I was joined by officials from the Chinese Government and Chris Han, Chairman of Xin He Shou Business Development Co and his business partner Alyssa Assen.

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The Chinese greenhouse structures are so-called solar houses. They are unheated, but thanks to their design, the warm energy is stored in the clay soil wall of the greenhouse during the day. The warmth that is stored during the day is released at night to keep a good temperature in the greenhouses. On top of this, the farmers will roll down a straw mat over the plastic film at night in order to insulate the structure. This makes the greenhouses very efficient.

The crops inside are grown without any additional chemical crop protection, or chemical fertilizers. The crops are watered with a small irrigation system.

Each of these structures are 80m2 and at this site there are 560 structures just for tomatoes. The tomatoes in this greenhouse will be ready just in time for Chinese New Year celebrations. Delicious.

One village will grow tomatoes, while the next one will grow cucumbers or cauliflower or lettuce etc. The structures may look simple but they are very efficient and the vegetables are grown without using chemicals.

The yellow squares attract the pests and are coated with a sticky solution to trap them.

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Water and nutrients are fed into the greenhouse through pipes at the end of each row. Woven straw mats are used as doors. and across the roof there are huge straw mats to keep the inside warm when the temperatures drop.

No chemicals are used on plants, so they are as good as organic. Most of these tomatoes go to the high end supermarkets in Beijing.

The Chinese Government is keen to have chemical free vegetables, this makes the growing process slightly longer with a cycle of 7 months until harvest.

In the nearby town of Youg Qing we visited a cucumber farm. Some of the vegetables grown in these greenhouses are exported. The vegetables are taken straight to cold storage after harvest. In China trucks do not pay road tax, they can be driven to Kazakhstan in 5 days and to Russia in 10.

According to my guide the farmers here are well off. Producing the vegetables is cheap and simple, making it easy for unskilled local villagers to work there.

The cost of building one of these greenhouse is 10,000 Dollars and that initial expenditure will be recovered within a year. On this site there were 1000 greenhouses growing cucumbers. Each planting takes 9 months to come into maturity.

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