Located in the northeast of Kunming, Yunnan province, southwest China, Dongchuan is a rural place in the Wumeng mountains. Dongchuan, which means ‘palette’, is a valley of colours. Spanning 50 kms. around the village of Huashitou in Xintian township near about 2400 mts. above sea level are rolling mountains where fiery red soil with a variety of crops and ever changing light can easily be mistaken as a Van Gogh’s painting. The iron oxide in the soil has developed an extraordinarily reddish soil. Cultivation of golden wheat, emerald barley, white potato flowers and pink buckwheat results in a painting of a magnificent landscape, a stunning mix of geometric designs and colours.

Though Dongchuan is often referred to as the colour palette of the gods, it is actually a wonderful creation of the farmers. Stones in the soil prevent croplands to retain water. These farmers plant drought-resistant crops. The farmlands allotted to each family are scattered around – while one plants potatoes, another cultivates wheat and such random allotment renders the stunning beauty to the swathes of multicoloured land. The farmers sustain the fragile ecosystem by opting traditional means of power generation with wind turbines that dot the undulating landscape of Dongchuan. And to make the most out of a land that is not hospitable for farming, the farmers of Dongchuna have resorted to plasticulture – an innovative method of farming where plastic tunnels are painstakingly created over the croplands to retain moisture, control temperature and prevent the seeds from weeds and insects as well as increase the land’s productivity.
1. Agriculture in the multicoloured fields of Dongchuan county still employs horse drawn carts2. Buckwheat, potato and barley are the major crops grown in the rust coloured valley3. A relentless toil in a land which is inherently inhospitable for farming4. Farmers at work in the village of Bei He Cun in Dongchuan5. A Dongchuan peasant returns home with his horse6. Of late, transport and communication system has developed in the area which makes it easier for the farmers7.The farmers sustain the fragile ecosystem by opting traditional methods of power generation by wind turbines in Dongchuan8. Traditional haystacks are used to stock harvested crops9. An elderly farmer donning his sheepskin coat relaxes near his farmland10. The quiltwork of the terraced fields rich in metallic minerals like alumina and iron, which lend to  its unusual colour palette11. The small hamlets that dot the Dongchuan landscape seamlessly merge into the colours12. The ever changing light creates a palette with random brushstrokes over the swathes of land