Another cherry blossom
species at Muxingquan Agri-
tourism Farm, the Fujisakura
cherry blossom trees create a
beautiful pink boulevard every
are always the most popular
fruit in spring.
Strawberries are in season
between mid-February and the
end of March, making this a
very good time for a day-trip
to this area.
Farm's Yaesakura cherry
blossoms open in February.
Adorable little purple lavender
flowers bloom from January to
All worries and stresses
disappear with a ride on the
A spring trip in March
Picking fruits in ShigangSeeing flowers in Xinshe
Words by Wu Xiu-yun
Photography by Liu Wei-zhen
Translated by Angel Pu
With spring around the corner, the weather getting warmer by the day and everything beginning to blossom, why not take the opportunity to plan yourself a little trip? Head to Taichung's Shigang district, where you can pick your own in-season tomatoes and strawberries, or go to Xinshe and take some beautiful pictures of the breathtaking, fully-open cherry blossoms and lavender, whose wonderfully coordinated pale-pink and purple colors make the mountains look like an oil painting.
Unique tomato corridor
Shigang's Youenmi Agri-Tourism Farm features a very special "tomato corridor", where a wide variety of tomatoes of every color and shape are formed into a corridor that resembles a scene from a fairytale. Growing in a greenhouse, the corridor is actually three tiers of tomato plants, specially arranged to ensure there is enough space for the tomatoes to grow. Tomato growing season is usually October to June, and Youenmi's tomatoes average 12-13 degrees brix ( sugar content).
Left: Three-tiered tomato plants form a special tomato corridor.
Right: The bell peppers are colorful, plump and sweet.
Besides almost 10 species of tomato, the farm also grows bell peppers. These genetically-modified peppers come in seven different colors, including yellow, orange, purple, black, white, apple green, and chocolate brown. The appetizing, attractive colors, which don't fade even during pan-frying, make these vegetables very suitable for salads. Another special vegetable cultivated here is fruit corn, which is as high as 18 brix and is a special imported species that contains no starch, meaning you won't feel uncomfortable even after eating a lot of them.
The farm also grows strawberries, cabbages, cauliflower and various flowers. The colorful scenery makes this place a top choice for early-spring trips. In addition, every agricultural product here has GAP certification, so visitors don't need to worry about pesticide residues when enjoying the delicious fruit.
Plump deliciously-red strawberries are in season
Near Youenmi Agri-tourism Farm, Quanshui Strawberry Farm has been open for 12 years. Owner Mr. Huang, from Dahu in Miaoli County, which is famous for growing strawberries, discovered that the soil texture on this 10-hectare farm was clay and resulted in strawberries that were sweeter than his hometown's. Thus, he used the agricultural techniques he learned in Dahu and opened the only agri-tourism strawberry farm in Shigang.
Normally strawberries are in season from December, but due to unstable weather this year, the strawberries weren't fully grown until mid-February, so make sure you go to pick yourself some sweet, delicious strawberries before it's too late.
As soon as you step onto the farm, you'll smell the sweet aroma of strawberries--an inspiration for taking as many home as you can. Strawberries are fragile and hard to keep fresh, so it's very important to store them properly. The farmers normally place damp newspaper above and below these fruit, avoid piling up too many strawberries in one box, and store them in the fridge as soon as possible, helping guarantee customers a week of freshness. However, for the freshest flavors, the farm still suggests eating the strawberries on the day that you pick them.
The strawberries grown here are also GMP-certified and have no pesticide residue, so all you need to do is to wash off the dust before eating. Keep in mind that all products at this farm are the fruits of the farmers' hard labor and a source of their income. Please follow the rules upon entering--for example, don't eat the fruit you have just picked on the spot, don't step on the plants and don't pick unripe fruit. Follow the above rules and you will have a very pleasant visit.
Pink cherry blossoms are the color of spring
After eating the freshest fruit of the season, why not go into the mountains and enjoy beautiful cherry blossoms in full bloom? Although there are no cherry blossoms in Xinshe, another species of these flowers blooms on the 900-meter-high Muxinquan Agri-tourism Farm. March is the best time to see these dreamy, pale-pink flowers growing along the mountain path.
This beautiful cherry blossom path makes people forget how high the elevation here is and keeps you walking, just to see more of these attractive flowers. Another plant that blooms in March is the Araguaney, whose yellow flowers make the blue sky even more beautiful. In May, the farm is filled with pale purple Lillies of the Nile and white, fully-opened Tung Blossoms, making it a great place for repeated visits to observe different blossoms in all four seasons.
Besides the pretty flowers, tourists can also view sunrises, sunsets and the entire Taichung Basin, thanks to the farm's location. The farm's abundant vegetation also attracts birds and insects, including butterflies, making it an ideal field trip.
Purple lavender generates a romantic atmosphere
You cannot go to Xinshe without visiting the well-known Lavender Cottage. The lavender-scented water mist at the entrance helps replace negative feelings like sadness, frustration and stress with positive energy as you enter. Follow the uphill path to Grace Garden, which has tropical plants and indigenous Taiwanese flora. Those more interested in herbs can visit Mrs. Wang's Herb Garden or The Herb House, which sell various exquisitely-made herbal products.
At the back of the park are two terraced lavender meadows that are amazingly beautiful when the flowers are in full bloom. There is a "make-a-wish" tree at the highest point here, where you can write your wishes on a card and hang it on a railing around the tree. Make a wish and ring the bell to see it granted as soon as possible. Another atraction that helps you forget your worries is the park's carousel, which visitors are welcome to ride as they relive their childhood memories.
Take National Freeway No. 1 or 3 and connect onto National Freeway No. 4 heading toward Dongshi or Shigang. Exit at the Fengyuan interchange, take Provincial Highway No. 3 towards Dongshi, turn left into the lane opposite Lovers’ Wood Bridge and you'll see Shigang Quanshui Strawberry Farm. To get to Youenmi Agri-tourism Farm, continue driving on Fengshi Road until the 161-km mark; after driving across Maizi Land Bridge you'll arrive at the farm.
Take National Freeway No. 1 or 3 and connect onto National Highway No. 4 heading toward Dongshi or Shigang. Exit at the Fengyuan interchange and take Provincial Highway No. 3 towards Dongshi. After driving over Dongshi Main Bridge, turn right onto Provincial Highway No. 8, turn left at Longan Bridge in the direction of Xinshe, and turn left again at Village Road No. 95. After passing Zhonghe Elementary School, drive another 5-7 minutes, and just follow the special road signs to either Muxinquan Farm or Lavender Cottage.
◆ Youenmi Agri-tourism Farm
391-10, FengShi Rd., Shigang Dist.
Tel: (04) 2582-6058
◆ Shigang Quanshui Strawberry Farm
26, JiuFang Lane, FengShi Rd., Shigang Dist.
◆ Muxinquan Agri-tourism Farm
60, ZhongXing St., Zhonghe Village, Xinshe Dist.
Tel: (04) 2593-1201
◆ Lavender Cottage
20, ZhongXing St., Zhonghe Village, Xinshe Dist.
Tel: (04) 2593-1066