Sistemas Importantes del Patrimonio Agrícola Mundial (SIPAM)

Urban Agricultural Heritage – Xuanhua Grape Garden, China

GIAHS since 2013


Detailed Information



Site location: Xuanhua District of Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China

Area of GIAHS: 0.49 km2

Population working for this system: 4680 people in the core area

Topological Characteristics: the northern semi-arid agricultural areas

Climatic Classification: semi-arid Continental Monsoon Climate

Ethnic Groups/Indigenous People: The majority population is Han (97%), and 25 ethnic minorities such as Hui, Manchu, Mongolian, Korean, Zhuang, Tujia occupy 3% of the population; however the population of three villages is Han.

Primary Income Sources: agriculture and tourism


Global importance

Garden cultivation of Xuanhua milk grapes uses traditional technology of funnel frames and polyclonal hole-planting methods, which is considered as having important historical and cultural value. The funnel-framed vineyard system is a unique structure being "square inside and round outside". This structure allows for traditional grape planting, cold threat reduction, using of organic manure fertilization techniques and the cultivation of many other plants. Strongly linked to the culture, milk grapes is part of the identity of the Xuanhua inhabitants.

The Xuanhua traditional vineyard system, a typical example of Chinese garden agriculture, not only maintains the national heritage, but also provides outstanding advantages of enriching biological diversity, changing eco-system and assuring food safety.

Food and livelihood security

Grapes have always played a very important role in the agricultural production of Xuanhua and are the main source of revenue of local farmers nowadays. In 2009, the total output of grape growing have reached 3,636 tons, and generated 25 million yuan income for local farmers.

Moreover, this system allows producing a large amount of vegetables, fruits, some crops and flowers planted around the courtyard grape grid to satisfy the self-consumption needs. There are more than 20 vegetables and cereals. The traditional cultivation of milk grapes is also an unique tourism attraction in Xuanhua District.

Biodiversity and ecosystem functions

Xuanhua grapes are various with over 40 varieties of grapes like white milk, longans, plums, bananas, Tiger eye, mare's milk and Kyoho grapes. The biodiversity of Xuanhua traditional vineyards also includes vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbaceous plants.

In addition, there are many species outside the courtyard in the Xuanhua District, which include food crops such as millet and corn and trees. In addition, Xuanhua has some rare and protected wildlife. The Xuanhua traditional vineyards have created a rich eco-niche providing conditions for species coexistence, and a very rich biological diversity.

As ecosystem functions, this system maintains soil functions mainly for precipitation interception. It will weaken the direct impact of raindrops on the surface and limit erosion, while well-manured soils will have high permeability and moisture-holding capacity. In addition, the vineyard’s ecosystem plays an important role in regulating atmospheric CO2, and is important for effective mitigation of global climate change.

Knowledge systems and adapted technologies

The funnel-framed vineyard is a unique structure being "square inside and round outside". Funnel-framed structure: a case study of three-circle frame. A full funnel frame sets a total root pole of 4, the second-row pole of 8, the corner pole of 4 and the leading pole of 16. It helps to concentrate solar energy, fertilizer and water resources as well as resist wind, save water and fertilizer.

Characteristics of Xuanhua traditional grape planting techniques also include cultivation tasks following the physiology of the plants (picking buds, cutting, etc.). Hollowing buried vines in cold winter: air is smartly and skillfully used to prevent the coldness, by which, temperature is 5 ℃ higher at the bottom. Concerning the fertilization, every family plants Malan flower, which can both make full use of the courtyard's space and supply the ideal material banding the grapes. Farmyard manure (human excrement) is traditionally used in the grape planting.

Cultures, value systems and social organizations

Farmers of Xuanhua milk grape generally inherited the family vineyard which usually has a planting history of more than 200-300 years. The culture of Xuanhua agricultural heritage system is long and the derived culture and eco-cultural system are closely relates to other systems like village etiquette, customs, folk literature and art, diet culture, manners and historic memories.

As a witness to history, the grape seeds in the unearthed cultural relics of Liao Dynasty in the ancient city give local people a strong sense of history that the vineyard contains, and a sense of identity and pride to their homelands. Recently, Xuanhua has held the second and the third Grape Culture Festivals which attracted many tourists to visit.

Concerning social organizations in the courtyard, traditionally, four generations held activities became an important venue for family life. This type of family’s structure and the relative isolation make Xuanhua funnel-framed grapes cultivation lead to a real society organization with a cultural landscape which has been handed down and preserved for generations.

Remarkable landscapes, land and water resources management features

Critically, this landscape of villages and courtyards is largely within the city walls of Xuanhua and forms an ‘oasis’ of green food production in the midst of an urban-industrial environment. The Xuanhua Funnel-framed grape is almost the only funnel-shaped grape planting method remaining in China.

Funnel-framed grape culture has a long history, and its unique and beautiful shape is highly ornamental, so traditional vineyards have an attractive landscape and leisure function. Therefore, the funnel-framed grape has its unique characteristic in history and culture which have led to an important cultural and landscape resource with a variety of factors for the development of the tourism and leisure industry.