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Yuanchang Township Lubei Community Development Association

  • Date:2020-09-14
Yuanchang Township Lubei Community Development Association

Name: 雲林縣元長鄉鹿北社區發展協會
Year of Establishment: 1994
Located At: Yuanchang Township, Yunlin County
Did You Know...?
Lubei Community was once home to a large native deer population, thus earning the name Luliao, or "deer home."

Yunlin County is the leading county in Taiwan for agricultural output in terms of value. Farmers have always had a love for the land and have devoted themselves to growing crops. Lubei Community in Yuanchang Township is a typical agricultural village, primarily growing crops like corn, garlic, rice, and peanuts. Since 2010, the farmers began focusing on growing black-skinned peanuts, and, in recent years, they have turned more toward planting corn, particularly sweet corn. Lubei corn is crisp and sweet, to the point that you can eat it straight after picking and cleaning it. Every year, the community grows some 290-390 hectares of corn, providing extraordinary economic benefits to the area. In recent years, the corn festival has become a theme of annual regional revitalization activities to attract domestic travel tourists.

The population of Lubei Community is small. The only elementary school has just nine students from grades one through three. Children from grade four onward need to go to a neighboring town to study. Times have changed, and children growing up on farms may not necessarily work in the field. To help these children understand the hard work their parents and other farmers in the community do, the Lubei Community Development Association last summer arranged to get the nine kids out working under the hot sun with the young farmers of the community sowing corn, as part of the activities of the annual corn festival. The association also plans to take the kids to harvest their corn in October so as to share the joy of harvesting.

Residents of Lubei Community still follow the pattern of traditional rural life, planting, tilling and plowing in line with the rhythm of seasons. For years, they applied the same ways cultivating and utilizing their crops, and the waste leaves, stalks, and silk have customarily been either fed to poultry or burned. They never thought that these waste materials could also be sources of income for their families and products made out of recycled waste help transform the community agricultural structure.

While agriculture can keep people clothed and fed, it is susceptible to factors like weather and the market, which can often lead to farmers ending up being exploited. In recent years, the rise of circular economies and cultural & creative products has led to places like Lubei deciding to start producing their own creative products, helping foster sustainability for both agricultural and cultural industries. Lubei's plan, the "Corn Doll Project," starts with collecting corn leaves, then drying and gathering them to be made into dolls. Everyone, old and young, has a part to play, proving that small contributions can create massive achievements and that one man's trash truly can be another man's treasure.

People began to come up with more ideas about what to do with the corn leaves, and so the community association established the Corn Leaf Craft Workshop to develop new craft products, using ingenuity and craftsmanship to increase the community's income. With the younger people moving away for work, many farmers still find themselves unwilling to retire even at the age of 70 or 80. As such, the community association also hopes that this secondary industry will help the elderly create output value without excessive physical exertion, letting them enjoy their twilight years.

From the "Corn Doll Project" to the "Corn Leaf Craft Workshop," the Lubei community has dedicated much effort in learning to make good use of local agricultural products and to create handicrafts with local characteristics. The National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute, which has provided assistance introducing craft aesthetics to the rural residents, points out that rural agricultural waste can be good resource of economic value. While it is not easy to promote the concept and quite challenging to lead the farmers to the road of making handicrafts, the recycled waste craft development project in Lubei has proved a success. The corn leaf products created through ingenuity and craftsmanship have not only brought in extra income for farm households in Lubei, they also help the farm community win increased exposure.