- Mar 31, 2021
- Social Responsibility
JD’s Plant Factory Sparks Children’s Early Interest in Agriculture
by Ella Kidron
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 on Mar. 22. The event was part of a larger program which 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.
JD Plant Factory in the Tongzhou district of Beijing
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 a disinfection prior to entering the factory.
Zhongsheng Wu, general manager of JD Plant Factory, teaches students about hydroponic planting
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!’”
Parents show their children veggies at the plant factory
They often come home with bags of the vegetables, and will also adapt to buying them online through JD.com, enhancing omni-channel conversion. Furthermore, parents will often post on their WeChat Moments (similar to a Facebook wall) too, helping raise overall awareness of the plant factory.
A boy excitedly enjoys a salad with veggies from JD Plant Factory
As the younger generation becomes increasingly tech savvy, there are concerns that fewer people will choose to go into agriculture. According to Statista, the percentage of the workforce in agriculture from 2009 to 2019 has declined from 38.1% to 25.1%. The plant factory visit can help to pique children’s early curiosity. Wu explained: “Children are the foundation of the future of agriculture. Through our programs, they learn that agriculture can be fun, interesting and high-tech.”
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 the combination of sunlight and artificial light in China.