Beijing's suburban farms and orchards bring forth quite a harvest, with everything from blueberries, grapes, pears, peaches, apples, strawberries and cranberries to pumpkins.
There are many farms that allow visitors to share in both the bounty and the experience, by letting all pick their own fruits.
If you're not up for some tree climbing or getting your hands in the dirt, there are plenty of roadside farm stands and weekly farmers' markets to indulge in.
At many of these farms and orchards, the local farmers and the government officials strive to grow top-quality fruits for visitors to pick and purchase. They can ensure that the farming practices are environmentally friendly and the fruit achieves the highest quality. To keep the orchard and fruit farms healthy and safe, farmers use sustainable farming methods and are certified sustainable by some food monitoring organizations.
Fruit picking trips are available in almost all the suburban districts and counties, from Daxing, Shunyi, Pinggu, Huairou, Miyun and Changping.
The following are sites offering fruit picking. They are listed according to different regions around Beijing.
Held from mid-August, the yearly grape festival is now underway in Caiyu, about 30 kilometers from downtown Beijing.
Caiyu is the largest grape growing region in Beijing, covering more than 1,330 hectares. About 6 hectares are open for visitors to pick their own. The wine brand Fengshou is located here.
There are 70 varieties of grape planted here, with picking lasting until late October.
Transport: Drive along Jing-Jin-Tang Highway to the Caiyu Exit. Drive another two kilometers following the signs. You can also take bus route 926 at Andingmen to Caiyu Station.
Entry ticket: 30 yuan (US$3.6) entrance ticket fee usually entitles you to pick what you can carry.
Tel: 86-10-80273611 (Chinese only).
The Daxing Autumn Fruits Picking Festival will be also held from September 6 to 12 in Panggezhuang, a town of Daxing District.
Pears will be the main attraction for visitors to the festival. About 3,000 acres of pear fields will be open for visitors from September 6. Most pears here weigh around 1 kg each.
For more information, contact 86-10-89235055
A grape-picking festival is annually held in Shunyi from August to September.
Located in Longwantun Town, Shunyi District, the village combines eco-agriculture, eco-tourism, and the hospitality industry. It has a large hi-tech plantation where 80 fruit varieties including apples, pears, grapes, peaches, strawberries, cherries, haws, and several types of edible fungi are cultivated.
Transport: take the Beijing-Shunyi Road, and follow the road signs.
Pinggu has mountains on three sides, and plains at the centre. Pinggu peaches were a tribute in ancient times, and are nowadays served at state banquets.
Transport: Take Bus No. 918 from Dongzhimen Station at 7:30 AM to Jinhai Lake, Jingdong Great Canyon and Limestone Caves, or drive along the Beijing-Miyun Road to Pinggu, following the road signs.
Many orchards in Huairou District are located near famous scenic spots like Hongluo Temple, Mutianyu Great Wall, Yanqi Lake or Qinglong Gorges.
Fruits here are mostly pears, Chinese chestnuts, peaches and apples.
The best quality large peaches may be picked in August, September and October at Liudian Wanzhuangzi, Jingdong Canyon, and Jingdong Limestone Cave.
Transport: Bus No.s 916 and 936 from Dongzhimen can directly get to these sites. You can drive along Jingshun (Beijing-Shunyi) Road and then towards Huairou.
Miyun could be the county with most orchards open for visitors. Most of these orchards are also located around scenic spots and resorts. Taoyuan Fairy Valley, Heilongtan, Yunmeng Mountain and Qingliang (Cool) Valley are probably the most attractive picking sites.
Transport: Take Dongmi (Dongzhimen-Miyun) Special Route from Dongzhimen to the town of Miyun. And then take a local minibus to different scenic spots. Drive along the Beijing-Miyun Road following the road signs.
Tel: 86-10-69050028 69050029 for Heilongtan; 86-10-61622481 for Yunmeng Mountain; 86-10-69050109 for Taoyuan Fairy Valley.
(China Daily August 26, 2005)