A visit to a farmer's market last September changed Wang Jianjun's life forever. "At the market, I read material on Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms and that same month I went to Beijing to visit those farms," Wang said. Upon his return, Wang, an engineer at a state-run company in Yunnan , quit his high-paying job and rented nearly 5hectares of farmland in a suburb of Kunming . In June he picked his first harvest. The term Community Supported Agriculture originated in the US in the 1980s, inspired by a farming movement that began in Switzerland in the 1920s. A similar system, Teikei, developed in Japan in the early 1970s. CSAs connect farmers with consumers. A community of individuals covers the cost of the farm operation and farmer's salary in return for organic produce. China's first CSA, Little Donkey, was established in Beijing by Shi Yan, a PhD holder from China's Renmin University, after she spent six months working on such a farm in the US. Shi, who has left Little Donkey and runs another farm, Shared Harvest, said CSA farms started to spread in 2011, and there were now more than 500 in China. Wang decided to run his own CSA farm after visiting Shi. "I'm very interested in farming and have always had a pastoral dream," said Wang. "People say I'm crazy but I was not happy in my career." Growing up on a farm in Hunan , Wang was the first in his family to go to university and got a master's degree in engineering. He then worked at a state-run engineering company, making more than 500,000 yuan (HK$600,000) a year. "That's not the life I wanted. My job then was just a tool for me to make money," he said. Since his June harvest, Wang has attracted more than 100 customers who either pay to have produce delivered or, for a lower price, help with production. "Our customers can rent a plot from us for 2,500 yuan a year, or we deliver produce to them for 6,500 yuan a year," Wang said. Most of his customers are local and middle to high earners. One of them is Song Hui, an account manager at a bank who rents a plot on Wang's farm which she tends at weekends. "The excessive use of pesticides and farm chemicals have caused serious pollution," Song said. Song grows vegetables on her plot to ensure they are safe for her and her pre-school son. She also gives away surplus vegetables to her friend. The development of CSA farms mirrors a growing consumption of organic produce. China is now the fourth-largest consumer of organic food after the US, Germany and France . Vegetables from Shi's farm cost 30 yuan per kg, cheaper than those from supermarkets but almost three times more expensive than non-organic produce. Organic farming has been growing steadily in recent years thanks to the flourishing of the Chinese economy, according to He Wenlong, director of the Organic Agriculture and Organic Food Research Institute at Nanjing Agricultural University. "The economy has been getting better and people are making more money so they can afford organic food," He said. People at CSA farms say organic farming has prospered due to concerns over food safety. The biggest challenge for organic producers is trust. China had nearly 13,000 certified organic products by the first half of this year. But some consumers still have doubts about them. "Trust is a big problem but it's not only in the organic industry. Organic producers want to make money. The certification centres for organic produce also have to make a profit. Some problems exist in the products' authentication process," said Wu Wenliang, a professor at the China Agricultural University in Beijing. Public distrust with the certification system has provided an opportunity for CSA farms. Chen Ruishu, from Zhuhai in Guangdong, had reservations about advertised organic products and decided instead to buy organic vegetables from Green Fingers, a CSA farm that started in Zhuhai in 2011. "I can see how the vegetables are grown. I've bought organic vegetables from the supermarket before but those from Green Fingers taste better," Chen said. Wen, of Renmin University, said customers' direct involvement in CSA farms built trust. "People will definitely grow organically for themselves. CSA farms don't need to advertise. It's all word of mouth," Wen said. Hardly any CSA farms have sought organic certification, and instead rely on the trust of consumers. But Shi thinks of trust as an investment. "I hire a person to write online posts about our production procedures and host events to get customers to participate in farming," Shi said. "These costs are quite high." But CSA farms in China also have their critics, who say they detract from the original idea of urban citizens pooling money to support farmers in return for organic farm produce. Nonetheless, China's CSA farms have been developing so fast that the annual world CSA farm conference will be hosted in Beijing this November. More than 2,600km from Beijing, Wang is confident he will have more than 200 customers by the end of the year.