Backyard-turned-gardens on Gobi beautify farmers' lives
The livestock shed in the home of Ge Xin, a farmer in northwest China's Gansu Province, used to stink of animal excrement. It has now become the most popular spot for visitors from near and afar.
Ge's backyard, featuring a small flower bed, a fountain made of clay pots and several sunshades embellished with dried corncobs, is a stark contrast to the desert scene surrounding it.
The 53-year-old farmer is from the village of Xiaying, Linze County along the Hexi Corridor, a long and narrow chain of oases in the Gobi desert.
Ge's home is not the only one in the village. Despite a notoriously inhospitable environment, the footpath of Xiaying is festooned with a myriad of flowers, and each house has floral decorations on the front door.
Apart from a subsidy of 4,000 yuan (585 U.S. dollars) provided by the village committee, Ge spent another 20,000 yuan to renovate his backyard.
"My neighbors and friends are amazed by the change of my stinky backyard into a place where they would like to have a cup of tea after a day's work," Ge said.
Like Ge, many villagers have also torn down their dilapidated sheds and turned them into gardens.
"Villagers pay more attention to their spiritual needs once they have no worries about food or money," said Zhang Kai, a local Party official. "The renovation of their backyards to some extent meets their spiritual needs."
Li Guojun farms in a nearby village. Besides watering his garden, he often volunteers to take care of the garden next to his house.
The garden was a wasteland before the local government furnished it with some disused agricultural tools. The place soon became a popular playground for children.
"The garden provides villagers with a place to relax, and the displayed tools tell stories of Chinese farming history, which is educational for children," said Li.
The improvement of the environment also brings financial benefits for villagers. Fan Xiangping thinks she has been lucky.
The government transformed the stinky gutter in front of her house into a small park and held a fishing festival there. Tourists have since frequented the park.
Fan seized the opportunity by opening a restaurant. She gained nearly 3,000 yuan in half a month.
"A better life increases villagers' demands for a better environment, and a better environment brings higher incomes," she said.
Twenty villages in Linze have been transformed into "model garden villages" so far. The local government said it will continue to improve infrastructure to meet people's material needs and explore traditional culture to enrich their spiritual life.
(Source_title：Backyard-turned-gardens on Gobi beautify farmers' lives)