On June 15, the opening ceremony of the 17th Zhejiang Landscape Tourism Festival and the 16th Yunhe terrace ploughing festival was held in Yunhe County, Zhejiang Province. Activities include offering sacrifices to the holy land, rewarding farm cattle and singing folk songs…

View of Ploughing Festiva. Photo: Liu Haibbo

As a local traditional folk custom activity launched every year in season of The Grain in Ear (one of the 24 solar terms), the grain in ear ploughing activity, which inherits the traditional agricultural civilization, has been included in the list of representative projects of national intangible cultural heritage, filling the gap in the national heritage of grain in ear, becoming a solar term symbol that highlights agricultural civilization and attracting tourists from all over the world.

View of Ploughing Festiva. Photo: Liu Haibbo

Yunhe County, located in Lishui City, Zhejiang Province, is known as “nine mountains, half water, half fields” (with many mountains, few dry lands and few fields). For thousands of years, the people of Yun as well as She and Han ethnic groups have built dikes and ridges according to different terrain and soil quality, and introduced the year-round spring into terraced fields, creating the most beautiful terraced fields in China —Yunhe terraced fields. The temperature in the mountain area is lower than that in the plain area. The annual grain in ear solar term is the time to plough the Yunhe terraced fields, and the local residents will hold the ploughing Festival on this day. On the ploughing Festival, farmers blow the mountain horn, reward the cattle, hold a solemn ceremony of sacrificing to the God of the field, express their gratitude to their ancestors for land reclamation with songs and beautiful dances, and pray for a bumper harvest of grain, the prosperity of the domestic animals and family harmony.

View of Ploughing Festiva. Photo: Liu Haibbo
View of Ploughing Festiva. Photo: Liu Haibbo

Yunhe terraced fields have a unique style of “thousand layers of terraces, 1000 meters drop, and 1000 years history”. Sunrise and sea of clouds, terraces of four seasons, traditional villages, cloud waterfalls, rime, etc. are unique natural landscapes with high ornamental and recreational value. It is the largest terraced group in East China and the most competitive and identifiable tourism resources of Yunhe. In particular, the terraced fields sit west to east and the number of the good weather with sunrise and sea of clouds exceeds 100 days a year. It is a world-famous shooting place of sunrise and sea of clouds, the “most beautiful terrace in China” in the eyes of photographers, and has become the “base of international artists creation on the spot”.

The terrace in winter. Photo: Liu Lili

In recent years, based on the spatial layout of “one city, one lake and one terrace”, Yunhe County has creatively put forward and deeply implemented the holistic 5A development model led by creating terrace fields as 5A. In 2020, Meiyuan grain in ear ploughing festival filled the gap in the 24 solar terms national intangible cultural heritage list, and Yunhe terraces successfully passed the landscape quality review of national 5A tourist attractions; In 2021, the first-class tourist reception center and the longest cloud viewing cableway in East China were put into operation, and creating of Terrace fields as 5A project had made breakthrough progress.

The terrace in summer. Photo: Liu Lili

The unique landscape makes the terraced fields become a fascinating tourist attraction. With an increasing number of tourists, revenue of the terrace scenic spot has increased by more than 52% annually for four consecutive years. With the continuous improvement of the influence of Yunhe Terrace Scenic Spot, production houses such as huiliao, cattle corral and pigsty have become important resources to develop tourism and activate the value of ecological products. Among them, kenggen village, where Yunhe Terrace Scenic Spot is located, has transformed production houses into bookstores, cafes and bars through the unified revitalization of idle agricultural houses. Villagers have enjoyed “tourism meals” by “selling scenery” at their doorstep.

The terrace in spring. Photo: Liu Lili

It is understood that in order to promote the development of Yunhe ecotourism and further expand the brand influence and international popularity of Yunhe terrace ploughing Festival, Yunhe also initiated the establishment of a global alliance for the protection and development of terraces at the opening ceremony of the 11th Yunhe terrace ploughing festival held on June 3, 2017. Its members include Yunhe terrace, Yuanyang terrace, Longji terrace, and other overseas terraced scenic spots, such as in Mexico, South Korea. It promotes to jointly learn from each other, study and promote the protection and development of terraced fields. In 2021, Yunhe also established a global think tank for the protection and development of Yunhe terraces, which aims to jointly explore issues of concern such as the protective development, normative construction and scientific utilization of terraces, and provide strong intellectual support for the sustainable development of global terraces.

The terrace in autumn. Photo: Liu Lili

Since the establishment of national 5A scenic spot was launched, Yunhe terraces have successively influenced and driven the income growth and revitalization of the southern mountainous areas of nearly one third of Yunhe County, benefiting more than 20000 people. At present, there are 170 local villagers working in the scenic spot; There are 164 homestays around the scenic spot, with 420 employees and an average annual turnover of more than 200000 yuan; The per capita income of farmers around the scenic spot has increased from 10000 yuan in 2016 to 25000 yuan in 2021, with an average annual growth rate of more than 15%, and the growth rate and total amount are higher than the average level of the whole county.

Correspodent: Lin Feng

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