One year ago, Huang Yu-chen, a student at National Chung Cheng University’s Department of Adult and Continuing Education, together with teacher Chen Yu-ching, went to Wantan Village in Chiayi County’s Jhongpu Township to assist the village in establishing a community canteen for the elderly. On discovering that local volunteers had donated land for elderly members of the community to grow vegetables, Huang helped them to set up an allotment. Huang says they participated so enthusiastically in the project that this yielded a surplus of vegetables, with far too many for villagers to use by themselves. She solved the problem by establishing a Facebook group called Wantan Sungho Grocers, which lists the types of vegetables for sale and the quantity available each time. Word of mouth quickly spread interest in the Facebook group among students and teaching staff at the university, and the group now has over 300 members.
For nearly 10 months now, every weekend Huang rides her scooter, laden with vegetables, the 27km distance from Wantan Village to National Chung Cheng University. Huang sells bunches of leafy greens for just NT$10, barely making a profit. Brushing off any idea of hardship, Huang says she was initially concerned that nobody would want to buy the produce, but now the vegetables usually sell out within 10 minutes after she updates the Facebook group. Huang adds that fellow students even ask about the location of the village and the provenance of the vegetables.
The enthusiastic response from students has greatly encouraged the village’s green fingered senior citizens, some of whom have taught themselves how to use social media in order to interact with their gourmandizing clientele. Income generated from the sale of their vegetables is used to buy plant seeds and organic fertilizer. Huang says the allotment’s elderly volunteers hope that, by growing and selling their healthy vegetables, they can look after the university’s students as if they were their own grandchildren.
Photo: Wang Shan-yen, Liberty Times
(Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times)
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