Test and photographs by Wei Yao
In a small residential area near Beijing’s East Second RingRoad, an apartment with a flowery balcony consistently draws attention. Owners Wei Xumin and Ma Liang lust forspring sunlight to shine on the balcony, injecting their greenery with vitality.
With greater importance attached to China’s food safety asof late, many Chinese people have begun planting vegetables at home by themselves. A few years ago, Wei Xumin, a Sichuannative, and her husband, Ma Liang, a Beijing native, opened ashop on Taobao, China’s largest e-commerce platform. Advocatin gurban farming, the couple sells seeds and seedlings forvegetables and fruits that are suitable to be planted on balconiesand roofs, as well as ornamental plants and secondary products.Their store has already earned a sterling reputation and impressivecustomer rating.
Entrepreneurship requires a heavy investment of time and energy. Although the internet enables the couple to perform most of the work by sitting at a computer, they must stay connected all dayto help amateur clients with basic planting techniques and answer their questions. In 2012, with the advice and help of a loyal client,Wei and Ma spent a year writing Organic Vegetables on the Balcony,a handbook for growing food at home. The book hit shelvesthis January, and has been selling well.......