China: plant factory sparks children's interest in agriculture

JD hosted nearly 100 primary school students and their teachers for a field trip at its hydroponic plant factory in the Tongzhou district of Beijing. The event was part of a larger program that started last year in which JD offers the plant factory as a high-tech educational facility for elementary and middle school students as well as families to learn hands-on.

During the activity, the general manager of the plant factory, Zhongsheng Wu, gave a lecture on basic crop growth knowledge, providing the group with a preliminary understanding of hydroponic planting. Following the lecture and observation, the children got to have a taste test.

As quality and food safety is of utmost importance to JD, every student and teacher donned a white lab coat, shoe covers, masks and head coverings, and stepped into the air shower for disinfection prior to entering the factory.

On the weekends, the factory is usually full of parents and their kids. It is a good way for kids to get outside and have much-needed contact with nature. Parents are also delighted by their kids’ newfound love of vegetables. Wu said: “Parents come to us and say, ‘my  kids never eat vegetables at home no matter what, but here they are eating veggies like little rabbits!’”

They often come home with bags of vegetables, and will also adapt to buying them online through, enhancing omnichannel conversion. Furthermore, parents will often post on their WeChat Moments (similar to a Facebook wall) too, helping raise overall awareness of the plant factory.

One of the teachers said at the end of the activity, “It was so well-organized. Students not only got to learn and understand the growth of a seed but also have hands-on practice.” Immersion education for kids is much needed and critical to their development. “Apart from ensuring the farm-to-table supply chain, being able to provide this type of education gives the plant factory an even greater purpose,” said Wu.

Built by JD in partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical of Japan, the plant factory gives JD an entry point at the very beginning of the supply chain and creates high-end vegetables using advanced hydroponic technology, artificial LED light source, and Internet of Things technology in a fully-closed environment. Covering 11,040 square meters, it is the largest plant factory with a combination of sunlight and artificial light in China.

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