Glen Chen sees huge potential in New Zealand for growing ginseng – a root that's been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
He grows wild-simulated ginseng between rows of trees in North Island pine forests.
Country Life finds out how Chen came to farm the antioxidant-rich plant so far from the busy Chinese city where he grew up.
Glen Chen is on the hunt for the ginseng he sowed 16 years ago in a pine plantation on the volcanic plateau in the centre of the North Island.
Armed with a large pair of secateurs, a bucket and a garden fork, he tramples down a prickly blackberry bush and a tangle of other weeds and starts forking through the soil.
Chen says you have to go carefully if you want to keep the roots intact and claim a high price for this prized root which has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years.
Ginseng is believed to have health-giving properties and is especially valued by Asian cultures, particularly Chinese and Korean people.
In Chinese the plant is called ren shen because of its similarity to the shape of the human body, legs and arms spreading out from a central root.
The pumice soils, chilly temperatures, and dappled shade of the New Zealand forest make the "perfect environment" for growing ginseng, according to Chen.
He uncovers a tiny root, 4 to 5 grams worth, which has been in the soil for 15 years.
"More important here is the very high level of ginsenosides ... the active ingredients," he says.
Chen's company KiwiSeng has a certified-organic ginseng crop that's still mostly under the soil and harvested to order.
He owns cutting rights to the forest and will make sure all of the ginseng is harvested before the trees come down.
Most of the world's ginseng is grown in China, Korea and North America. The crop is so valuable that in some places it is guarded to prevent poaching.
In northeastern China, artificial canopies shade the crop from the sun on special farms.
The wild-simulated ginseng grown in New Zealand would fetch a much higher price, Chen says.
Although New Zealand's handful of ginseng producers are keen to export the crop to China and Chinese authorities have indicated they have no issue importing it, Chen says our authorities have been frustratingly slow to progress the trade.
The potential for ginseng as an understory crop in pine forests is huge, Chen says, and he encourages more forest owners to look at planting it.
"We really want more people ... to see there's another option [with growing ginseng] for them."
An income of $50,000 per hectare from logging a forest after 28 years could be boosted by the same amount after 12 years with a ginseng crop underneath, he reckoned.
Chen, who arrived in New Zealand in 2008, immediately fell in love with the more relaxed lifestyle here.
He said it is hard for his family in China, especially his mother, to understand what he is doing.
"She thinks I'm a poor farmer, exactly the same as what she did 40 or 50 years ago in the countryside ... just harvest every year and work very hard.
"She says you don't have to do that, be a farmer in New Zealand. You can come back to Shenzhen and do an easier job.
"I'm happy [with] what I'm doing now and I think there's big potential."