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Farmers Let Neighbors Help Themselves to a Bag or Two of Their Radishes, Incur $42,000 in Losses

When two farmers in China’s Hubei province decided to let their neighbors take a bag or two of their newly-grown white radishes, they had no idea it would cost them their entire 500 tonne harvest, or about $42,000 in cash.

Xu Jiuge, one of the farmers who suffered the shocking loss last month, told the Chutian Metropolis Daily newspaper that he and his partners decided to let their neighbors take a few radishes for home consumption after some of them praised their produce, saying that it tasted great in their winter soups. After all, they only had a few neighbors, and if each took a bag or two of radishes, it didn’t really affect their hundreds of tonnes harvest. But what the farmers didn’t expect was for their neighborly courtesy to turn into a free-for-all that not even the police could stop.

Photo: Weibo

“The villagers told us the radishes we grew tasted great in their winter soups, and asked if it was OK to take a few,” Xu Jiuge told Chinese reporters. “They were our neighbors and we didn’t think it was a big deal so we said they could pick some … but I don’t know how it evolved into the rumor that all our radishes were free.”

No one knows who made up the rumor that the farmers were giving away white radishes for free, but one thing is for sure – it spread like wildfire. By next day, the farmers’ fields were already overrun by people they had never seen before, some of whom had traveled a long way for some free radishes and would not be denied. The farmers tried calling the police, but there was only so much they could do to contain the masses.

Photo: Weibo

“Most people came on Tuesday, from 7am to 10pm, there were people all over the field,” Xu said. “I estimated there were 3,000 people that day. Some of them had traveled from 120km away.”

Some of the freeloaders even livestreamed their radish picking session on social media, inviting their friends to join them. There was nothing for the owners to do but sit and watch their 500 tonne harvest evaporate in front of their eyes. Their kindness only cost them $42,000 in losses… Still, they weren’t too upset, telling reporters that they decided to see the whole thing as charity and move on, instead of filing a complaint and seeking compensation.

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