Based in a county that was dominated by agriculture in the past, the Chiayi Dingcaiyuan Development Association is a non-governmental organization that has preserved the dwindling agricultural industry from urban development by combining local culture, environment, and landscape in revitalizing the community.
Established by a group of local residents who were concerned about the cultural heritage of early agricultural Taiwan, the association aims to preserve, restore, and pass down local culture and history, as well as create new values based on agricultural resources and build a sustainable community.
The association has taken different approaches to achieve its objectives. Since 2010, the association has started running an environment education center, which was approved by the Environmental Protection Administration after a year of building facilities and designing educational courses on environmental health.
The learning center allows community members to promote environmental preservation and education, offering opportunities for more people to explore the community and learn about regional history, the traditional way of life, and the wisdom passed down by ancestors.
The association also promotes cultural tourism through the establishment of Dingcaiyuan County Park. The park offers a large space that preserves roughly 40,000 cultural relics, such as harvester machines, stone mills, and winnowers that were used in the old times. There are also buffalos and farms to present a nostalgic scene.
In addition, the association restored the "Golden Railway (黃金鐵道),” a railroad that was suspended in 1982 due to the emergence of modern vehicles. Established during the Japanese colonial era, the railway was used for transporting sugar canes and people, serving as a witness of the rise and fall of Chiayi's sugar industry.
Today, the hundred-year-old railway and its surrounding area have been restored and re-organized to present the development of Taiwan's railway culture. There are also well-versed tour guides who introduce visitors to the history of the regional sugar factory and local community development.
With strong attachment to the land of Chiayi, the association members have revived the community through educational and cultural activities. The disappearing agricultural resources are also given new value with the core sustainable spirit of agriculture being appreciated once again by contemporary society.