Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour 2017 – The Arrival

Sunday started off the 2nd Annual Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour, Day 0. This is the day when everybody is scheduled to arrive. The logistics were tough but we believed we had it worked out. Everyone was booked on the same flight on Vanilla Air from Tokyo to Hong Kong and had everything gone okay, it would have been a smooth transition to get everyone across the border and into Shenzhen to the hotel. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

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Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour, Vol 2 Prep – Scouting Markets 2

Day 2 of the wholesale market scouting for the Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour has come and we planned to hit up around four markets again. Our first stop was the outdoor products and camping gear market near the Peoples’ Stadium in Guangzhou. We heard that they do a lot of camping gear which makes it especially interesting to us and we wanted to know what wholesale costs they usually go for. We hopped a cab and went there but upon arrival were disappointed to find that they just had retail camping gear shops. We checked a couple of them out because the prices were still quite low and we had some outdoor trips coming up, but if they had retail shops, they must have wholesalers. We’re interested to find the wholesalers as a potential way for people around hackerfarm to import goods internationally. As a summary, the camping and outdoor market is a retail market with a lot of camping gear and packs as well as sporting goods shops.


The next stop was the housing decoration and construction market. The name of this area was intriguing so I wanted to check it out. The proper name would probably be the interior design market and they had wholesalers for interior curtains, flooring, and lighting. JC and I were hoping to see things like bathroom fixtures, kitchen organizational tools, and stuff that were more aftermarket. Carpets and lighting are mainly for people doing construction on their homes, although the curtains were really nice. We are also thinking to get some custom curtains done for hackerfarm, but that would have to wait for another post. This market is good for interior design if you are planning a renovation or your industry is renovating homes and interior design. This was only one of a few of these types of markets so there are possibly other markets that have a different focus. If you get to check out those markets, let us know how it goes.

Next up was the industrial printing market. This market has all things print-related as well as vendors that can help you handle any of your printing needs. On our way there, we passed by an eyeglass market which I’ve mentally made a note of. Our hotel for the tour will be near the area so I will walk over and check that place out. The print market starts out with a bunch of packaging vendors that will handle doing custom printed packaging for you. Those can range from custom printed foil bags for food to paper and cardboard shopping bags. As you go up the street, it becomes more industrial, getting into different types of inks for offset printing, gravure, lithography, etc. Going even further up the street takes you to the different paper shops that have various stocks of paper on display. These places are constantly loading pallets of A0 sized paper in and out of the street. And finally, you get to the printing equipment.

You can’t really buy things like offset printers there, mainly because the offset printer markets are still dominated by companies like German and Japanese companies. You can buy the smaller associated machines for printing though such as guillotines, wire binders, saddle stitchers (heavy duty staplers), and hot glue binders. These machines are priced extremely reasonably and Jacinta and I are discussing setting up an experimental print shop at hackerfarm. That would be very useful to experiment with print techniques which include precision cutting and various types of binding. Although we planned this as a scouting mission, we ended up spending over two hours in this market just looking around. We’ll definitely be coming back here. This market is good for people involved in printing, whether that’s for publishing, graphics design, or packaging. It’s also excellent for people interested in papercraft and there are various low cost machines to handle tasks like embossing and hot foil stamping.


The final market we went to was the wholesale tea market in Fangcun. It’s the largest tea market in China and had tea from all over the country. It was really interesting seeing all the different types of teas and also learning about where they come from and how they’re prepared. JC and I ended up purchasing a lot of tea and a small tea set to start learning more about it. We’re hoping to become more knowledgeable about tea and transitioning over to more tea from coffee. We also think it might be interesting to start importing tea, but I suspect there’s a long learning curve. Much like jewelry, if you don’t understand the industry, it is easy to get taken advantage of. Even while we were there, the people we purchased tea from took us to a place to buy the tea set and likely received a kickback from it. Just as a warning, it’s buyer beware and everyone there is a businessperson and out to make money. Otherwise, the wholesale tea market was wonderful and JC and I were very impressed with it. It’s very interesting both culturally and with the teas on display and we’re now considering entering one of the oldest trades in the world: importing and exporting teas.



That wraps up the wholesale market scouting in Guangzhou. Next up will be the Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour Volume 2 Itinerary 🙂

Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour, Vol 2 Prep – Scouting Markets 1

Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour Vol 2 Tools 3

It’s been six months since the last Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour and we’re at it again. This year, we’ll be focusing on the wholesale markets which offers an easier way for people to get exposed to how things work in China as well as understanding the mechanism of how an import/export business would work. We’ve lined up quite a lot of markets to provide a good mix of products so people can get ideas on what they could potentially import to Japan. Continue reading “Hackerfarm Shenzhen Tour, Vol 2 Prep – Scouting Markets 1”

Hackerfarm Automated Irrigation Workshop

The Hackerfarm Automated Irrigation Workshop is the first workshop that’s come out of our “Agricultural Workshop” series. Workshops in this series are designed to teach some aspect of technology in the context of things that would be useful in an agricultural context. The Naiad system was designed specifically for this workshop. It’s a system that can control four water pumps, has a real time clock with alarm interrupt, waterproof temperature sensor, lithium-ion battery powered, and has a solar charge controller. It also fits into a weatherproof plastic enclosure for outdoor mounting.  Continue reading “Hackerfarm Automated Irrigation Workshop”

FarmLab – The Hackerfarm Experimental Farm Plot

Hackerfarm FarmLab

Hackerfarm was originally started as a “hackerspace in context”, and that context was agriculture. It’s the reason we started it out in rural Japan surrounded by rice fields and farmers. We’ve been working with locals on various initiatives to combine agriculture and technology and this gave us insight into how things could be done better.

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