Shanghai Organic Farm: Tony's Farm
With the growing concern about Food Safety in China, organic food has become a popular choice for locals and expats in Shanghai.
As discussed in our Organic food article, there are many ways for Shanghai expats to buy organic food in Shanghai. Several Organic farms have been established in and near to Shanghai in the last eight years.
We have a list of organic farms in Shanghai at the end of this article.
Tony’s Farm is one of the earliest and most well-known Organic Farms. Founded in 2005 in Pudong, it has since expanded to a second location in Chongming Island.
Tony’s Farm was founded by Tony Zhang Tonggui, who owned a successful chain of Sichuan cuisine Shanghai restaurants, but became concerned about the safety of mass produce he was using in his restaurants.
Tony’s Farm’s main distribution channel is weekly subscription deliveries to Shanghai households. They also sell their vegetables through several supermarkets and restaurants.
Their unique offices and packing rooms, located on their Shanghai organic farm, are constructed from old shipping containers, emphasizing their environmental and sustainable philosophy.
After visiting the farm we interviewed their Sales Director Aaron Mao about their Shanghai Organic Farm.
Where is your farm located?
Our first farm is located at 7007 Nanfeng Rd., Pudong New District, Datuan village. We also have a second organic farm on Shanghai’s Chongming Island.
Why did you choose this location?
Datuan township in Nanhui district is Shanghai’s traditional agricultural zone, with low amounts of industry and pollution. Transportation is also convenient. When Tony’s Farm Datuan Base was established it was through a government tender project.
The ecological environment of Chongming island is even better, so Tony’s Farm chose this area for its second base. Currently we are implementing the Soil Improvement process there (organic accreditation regulations require previously used agricultural land to be ‘cleaned’ for 3 years).
How big is Tony’s Shanghai Organic Farm?
Our Datuan Base is 1,750 Mu (117 hectares, 288 acres) and our Chongming Island Base is 1,620 Mu (108 hectares, 267 acres).
When was the farm founded?
Our Datuan Organic farm was founded in 2005 and our Chongming Island Farm in 2010.
When did you start selling organic vegetables?
We began to sell our organic food in Shanghai in 2010.
What kind of Organic Certification do you have for your farm?
We are certified by the Organic Food Development and Certification Center of China (OFDC) headquartered in Nanjing. This body is accredited nationally by the China National Accreditation Service (CNAS) and internationally by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
When did you receive official Organic Certification?
We were fully certified in late 2009.
What did you need to do to get the official Organic Certification license?
The farm must fulfill the standards for National Organic Certification. Information on requirements can be found at this website. Key elements of the regulation include:
A) Have never used any materials that are listed as prohibited in the related Standards, in the past 24 months (for annual crops) or 36 months (for perennial crops);
B) Not treat seeds with any prohibited substance prior to sowing or use any seeds or seedlings of GMO;
C) Have undergone a minimum of 24-36 months of conversion for farmland in a conventional production system to become eligible for organic certification or at least 12 months for newly reclaimed land from wasteland or land deserted for years;
D) Organic/Organic-in-conversion products will not be certified until at least 12 months after the initial on-site inspection by OFDC.
Why do you think Shanghai expats should choose Organic foods?
For both environmental as well as Food Safety reasons, organic foods in China are a good choice for expats.
What is the cost of organic food in Shanghai compared to regular vegetables?
Based on weight, our organic produce costs approximately 3-5 times the price of mass produce non-organic vegetables in Shanghai.
How is the quality of the Shanghai water that you use at your site?
It fulfills the Organic farm standards which are tested regularly. We have invested about US$10 million to build our own water filtration and circulation system, to ensure and manage our water resources and protect them from pollution.
What substitutes do you use to replace chemical fertilizer and pesticides?
We have our own natural manure and fertilization mixing area on the farm. We also use some natural biological pesticides which are approved for Organic farming by the accreditation authorities.
How much has your company invested in your Shanghai Organic farm?
We have already invested over RMB 250 million (US$ 41 million)
Where does your investment come from?
Our investment comes from our own enterprise, local government and venture capital funds.
How many farmers now work in the farm?
We have approximately 200 farmers at Tony’s Farm.
Do you sell organic meat in Shanghai?
Not yet, but we shall start selling organic meat next year.
What vegetables do you sell?
We sell approximately 100 different kinds of vegetables throughout the year, depending on the season.
How do you sell your vegetables?
We have over 10,000 families ordering our organic produce through our subscription service. We deliver to their homes based on their subscription. We also sell through Carrefour department stores. As well, approximately 20 restaurants and enterprise canteens use our organic vegetables in their cooking.
What percent of your clients are Shanghai expats?
Approximately 1 percent of our subscription service clients are Shanghai expat families.
Do you have English language service for Shanghai expats?
Shanghai expats can order in English through our sales hot-line: 400 820 2162. Currently we don't have an English order form at our website.
What kinds of delivery subscriptions do you offer?
Our subscriptions are for 1 or 2 home deliveries per week. You can decide the size of each order based on how many family members to feed, and how many meals per week you will eat at home. You can order for just one week, one month or several months, with larger discounts for longer subscriptions. See our VegBox site. The composition of the box will depend on the season.
Do you organize activities for customers at your organic farm?
We organize hospitality services for our members, and also offer some trainings on organic food knowledge at our farm. However, we don't have a lot of English-speaking staff at our Shanghai Organic farm, so it would be best for the Shanghai Expats to bring an interpreter when they visit.
Who should Shanghai expats contact to arrange a visit?
Please call 400 820 2162 to arrange an appointment or order our organic food.