Many Americans do not believe that China has pristine natural regions, but they would be incorrect. While the poor air quality in several of it's major cities is cause for some serious concern, China also boasts some of the most breathtaking natural geography in the world.
Considering China’s vast land mass, and the huge impact it’s economic growth has on the rest of the world, fostering understanding, respect, preservation and sustainability of these natural areas are important keys to caring for the future of our planet.
The organic mandarin islands are located in the Thousand Island Lake, around 100 miles west of Hangzhou, the capital of the southern province Zhejiang.
The lake is one of the 44 state national scenic spots and is presently China’s biggest national park.The lake covers over 143,000 acres, an area more than 220 square miles that encompasses 1078 islands. Most of these islands are owned by individual families who live on and care for them.
The islands are also home to more than 1700 species of native plants.The surrounding waters, highly valued as a reservoir for some of the nation’s highest quality drinking water, boast 87 species of fresh water fish.
The biodiversity in the area is enormous; some of the islands are wild and mountainous, some of them are occupied with tea, mulberry, timber, and bamboo,and five of them are homes to certified organic orchards of grapefruit and mandarin oranges
It may be helpful to understand how small family farmers have created these unmatched organic orchards.
Around ten years ago, one of these families noticed several stands of volunteer mandarin trees growing in the wild.
The trees grew quite easily without any problems, so the family decided to plant more trees and to cultivate them.Families on neighboring islands saw how the mandarin trees thrived, and they followed suit. Several of the families learned about the sustainable benefits and premium value of organic agriculture, and began the process to achieve international organic certification of their orchards.
As a result, we now enjoy the bounties of five organic island orchards, which have been totally organic since 2004.
The isolated area of the organic islands and their wonderful biodiversity create good conditions for organic farming. Mountainous island topography and long distances between the islands pose significant natural barriers to the possibility of wind drift contamination.
The absence of industry or even roads contribute to the pristine nature of the area. Diverse island flora restrains the incidence of pests and diseases.
Many grasses and bamboo make it more difficult for disease spores and pests to jump from tree to tree.
Meanwhile, the wide variety of island plants creates a habitat for the pests’ natural enemies to thrive.
Any rotten or infected fruits that do occur are quickly removed and destroyed by the farmers, who also prune the trees faithfully to open the canopy.
This increases sunlight and airflow to dry the leaves, which further reduces the incidence of disease.
Farmers are proud that their organic orchards are flourishing under their care, contributing to both the sustainability and prosperity of the region.
Most years, the mandarins are plump, ripe and ready to pick between October and December.
That’s when the farmers harvest their tree-ripened fruits and guide their small boats, loaded with organic mandarins, to the distant mainland shore.
From here the mandarins will be transported to our certified organic canning facility, approximately 55 miles away.