Sat, Mar 20, 2004 - Page 16 News List

Reaping the rewards of agricultural enterprise

A village community in Ilan County has an interesting story to tell about how art bridged the divide between rival temples

By Derek Lee  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Ilan County Government plans to launch a water bus project a few years from now by using solar-powered ferryboats to link Jenju Community, Chingshuei Park and other popular visitor points along the river. Its overarching aim is to set up a national waterfront recreation area to boost local tourism even further.

The Jenju community, however, is just one example of the many independent villages which have adapted to changes in the farming ecomomy. Other examples include Ilan's White Rice Community (白米社區), which is well-known for producing wooden shoes; and the Jiu Zan Tou Community (九贊頭公社), which offers ecology and cloth handicraft classes in Hsinchu County (新竹縣).

Under the 10-year-old Integrated Community Development Project (社區總體營造) initiated by the Council for Cultural Affairs (文建會), more than a hundred communities all over Taiwan have demonstrated their burgeoning cultural creativity by adapting local and natural resources.

If you do have the chance to visit Jenju, do not miss a pumpkin meal or baked pumpkin pie. Local resident Lee Chi-sen (李吉森) introduced pumpkin seeds from the US several years ago and his garden is now over 150m long, with over 300 varieties of pumpkin plants from all over the world.

Lee, who is in his 60s, is an art-crazy farmer as well. He enjoys making carvings, in the shape of a Chinese dragon or other animals, on the skin of his pumpkins that hang from canopies of leaves in the garden.

There are many untold stories in the country's village communities and the story of one man bringing peace to a village through hay art is just one of them.

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