NANJING, April 10 (Xinhua) -- When many of the residents of Siyang County in east China's Jiangsu Province left their poor and underdeveloped hometown years ago, they could not have imagined the large numbers of tourists now visiting the county to view the peach blossom.
Song Shanshan, 27, a local entrepreneur known as Ms. Peach, is the one given credit for this beautiful display of flowers.
Born and raised in Zhaochen villag, Song refused to believe that her hometown would remain a "rotten peach," a local term for the poorest place or people. She returned after graduating from university in the nearby city of Huaiyin in 2012, and after years of hard work, now runs a sofa factory with over 150 million yuan (23.8 million U.S. dollars) in annual revenue, which creates more than 500 jobs for local residents.
"I want my fellow villagers to make money here, instead of leaving their hometown," said Song.
In 2017, the average monthly income was 6,000 yuan per villager, up from just 1,000 yuan in 2012.
Being a successful businesswoman did not satisfy Song's strong will to change her hometown.
Last year, the city of Suqian, which administers Siyang County, started a recruitment program to attract more well-educated young people to become grassroots officials.
Song became the deputy secretary of Zhaochen village branch of the Communist Party of China last August after passing a several exams and interviews.
In China, peach blossom symbolizes love and romance, and "Peach Blossom Land" is the Chinese term for a utopia filled with peach blossom where kind people live in prosperity.
Farmers have been growing peach trees in Siyang for hundreds of years, but never turned selling peaches into a profitable industry.
As a successful entrepreneur and a respected Party official, Song rented 200 mu (about 13.3 hectares) of land from villagers and started a peach orchard last year.
After thorough research, Song and her team planted over 20 different kinds of peaches, installed an advanced drip irrigation system, and invited agricultural technicians to work in the orchard.
"Of course, the orchard will not be as profitable as my furniture business, but this is a project that will bring more money to local residents," she said.
Song visits her orchard everyday, and has vowed never to let the peaches rot. "I've made a promise and I can't disappoint the villagers."
March and April, the peach blossom season, are now the most lively months of year in Siyang, as many tourists visit in the county to view the blossoms.
Garden tours are a new trend among plantlovers and photography enthusiasts in China.
When the trees start producing fruit in three years, Song's orchard will become a producer and wholesaler of peaches. She plans to market and sell the fruit using China's booming e-commerce industry.
The orchard now provides nearly 500 jobs for local residents and provides a total of two million yuan in rent to 195 families in the county every year.