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Journal of Geographical Sciences    2019, Vol. 29 Issue (5) : 675-701     DOI: 10.1007/s11442-019-1621-2
Rural transformation: Cherry growing on the Guanzhong Plain, China and the Adelaide Hills, South Australia
Guy M. ROBINSON1(),SONG Bingjie2
1. Department of Geography, Environment and Population, University of Adelaide, Australia
2. School of Geography and Tourism, Shaanxi Normal University, China
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This paper echoes a tradition in agricultural geography by focusing on a single crop: cherries. It illustrates how developments associated with globalisation and growing urban markets are re-shaping rural areas. The interplay between global and local is investigated in two different contexts. A Chinese example reflects transformations affecting the countryside following national economic reforms. Focusing on the hinterland of Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province, it examines farmers’ responses to the changing socio-political context and the rising size and wealth of the local market. Individual initiatives backed by government support have spawned localised concentrations of cherry growing and increased horticultural production. Farm-based tourism is creating new relationships between farmers and consumers, with farms becoming more diversified and multifunctional. The second example is the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, where cherry growing is increasingly combined with direct sales to consumers and gastronomic tourism. The paper addresses contrasts and similarities between the two examples in the interplay between global and local, and a ‘multifunctional transition’ in farming. Concluding remarks include reference to new economic links forged between China and Australia through relaxations on cherry imports to China and new patterns of Chinese foreign direct investment into Australian cherry production. A research agenda for future research is suggested.

Keywords cherries      agriculture      rural tourism      globalisation      multifunctional      China      Australia     
Issue Date: 19 April 2019
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Guy M. ROBINSON,SONG Bingjie. Rural transformation: Cherry growing on the Guanzhong Plain, China and the Adelaide Hills, South Australia[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2019, 29(5): 675-701.
URL:     OR
temp (℃)
hours (N)
humidity (%)
period (days)
Precipitation (mm)
Guangzhou Plain1 14.6 1907.3 65 214.5 532.5
Adelaide Hills 14.3 2513.6 58 320 453.2
J F M A M Jn Jl A S O N D
Guangzhou Plain1 Temp (℃) 1.4 4.8 9.9 15.7 20.7 23.8 27.7 25.5 21.2 14.3 7.8 2.3
Guangzhou Plain1 Precip (mm) 4.0 1.9 20.0 84.5 50.5 91.4 18.2 58.4 92.1 59.8 30.1 1.6
Guangzhou Plain1
Sunshine hours (N)
135 139 148 205 216 132 268 218 130 120 66 130
Adelaide Hills
Temp (℃)
18.5 19.0 17.0 14.0 11.0 9.0 8.0 9.0 10.5 12.5 14.5 17.0
Adelaide Hills
Precip (mm)
26.7 22.0 35.3 56.7 89.9 116.2 139.7 119.3 102.1 64.5 37.6 36.7
Adelaide Hills
Sunshine hours (N)
304 263 242 189 146 117 127 158 183 239 261 285
Table 1  Background information for the case study areas
Figure 1  Shaanxi Province, China
State Growers Area (ha) Production (t) Exported (%)
New South Wales 108 800 4407 25
Queensland 18 25 36 0
South Australia 118 590 2500 6
Tasmania 76 560 4000 63
Victoria 95 800 4500 24
Western Australia 70 70 500 0
Table 2  Cherry growing in Australia, 2014
Figure 2  Cherry producing areas in Australia
Figure 3  On-farm tourism and cherry growing, Adelaide Hills, South Australia Source of base map: .id the population experts
Activity Number of outlets Other activities at the 24 outlets Number of outlets
Pick-your-own only 7 Sales of ice cream 7
Shed-door sales only 10 Sales of jams/pickles/fruit juices 8
Pick-your-own plus shed-door sales 7 Café/restaurant 3
Total 24 Sales of other fruit 8
Table 3  Cherry-based tourism in the Adelaide Hills
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