In the past the Junior Farmers’ Association of Ontario has partnered with the Canada International Exchange and Promotion Council (CIEPC) to organize a trip to China with some agricultural aspects. This is an opportunity for anyone connected with JFAO to travel the world in addition to our many exchanges. This year we strived to have a larger group in order to be able to alter the itinerary to view a dairy farm.
Not only did I get the pleasure of assisting with the organization of the trip, but I also got to attend the China trip. Having first hand experience of our programs and offerings is the best way to see the benefits our members receive and how to improve JFAO going forward.
We had a diverse group of 13 individuals leaving Canada October 20th, 2016 including Margaret Vincent (Perth), Annemarie Struhar (Perth), Sarah Found (Durham East), Amy Harrigan (Haldimand-Norfolk), Brittany McLaren (Renfrew), Holly Dillon (friend of a member), Morgan McLaren (Renfrew), Kathryn (Kit) Sheldon (alumni), Keith Innes (alumni), Betty Clark (aunt of alumni), Nancy McLeod (alumni), Vicki Innes (alumni), and myself (Executive Director of CIP). Coming from as east as Renfrew County to as south as Essex-Kent we truly captured a large geographical area of Junior Farmers.
We first landed in Beijing spending 5 days exploring the city. We visited Tiananmen Square, the largest public city square in the world, the Forbidden City, and rode a rickshaw through Hutong, the old town of Beijing. We then ventured out of the city to climb the Great Wall, which required almost all of us needing an evening massage. We explored a jade carving factory and saw the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube famous buildings where the 2008 Olympics occurred. We had an amazing experience seeing a dairy farm outside of the city; getting to taste fresh milk and yogurt while being filmed and interviewing the farmer himself. Our last day in Beijing involved joining in with a Chinese singing group at Summer Palace, learning about fresh water pearls and visiting pandas at the zoo.
We then flew to Shanghai on our way to Suzhou exploring the small paths with the center of the town being spilt by many waterways. We learned about the process of silk spinning at a mill and visited an embroidery research center. The next day we ventured to Hangzhou and learned about Chinese medicine and explored Hu Xueyan’s Chinese Medicine Pharmacy. Before heading back to Shanghai we visited the Meijiawu Longjing tea farms and had a tea tasting after exploring the tea trees. Our last day on tour involved visiting the financial district famous for many posh and old hotel buildings, banks and office buildings. Across the water way we could see the Pearl Tower. The final day in Shanghai was at our own leisure to explore the city as we pleased.
A trip organized by JFAO provides a level of comfort to those wishing to travel and a level of excitement to those who enjoy travelling in groups. Although many of us did not know each other prior to departing for China knowing we all had some connection to JFAO gave confidence that it would be a wonderful group to travel with and that it was. The trip was filled with adventure, tasting of new foods, walking till our legs hurt and many moments of laughter. I cannot wait to see what types of trips future CIP directors will bring to our members.