Success Story: Zhang Mingchu & The Peonies In Alaska

The story of a man and his love for plants.


Wuhan Social is looking for remarkable people from Wuhan to put them in the spotlight and share their extraordinary stories.

Zhang Mingchu is, without a doubt, one of these success stories we all want to read about…


“The Nation is great because of its people; and the way you make people great is by educating them.”

Zhang Mingchu grew up in Wuhan, under the government of Chairman Mao Zedong. At that time, teenagers were often sent to the countryside after High school in order to farm. Zhang Mingchu didn’t escape the rule and was sent there right after he finished school. He was young and that’s how he discovered his passion for agriculture.

Photo credits: Jeff Fray

“People were poor but people worked hard”, he explained, “And those people needed help.” For him, this experience tended out to be eye-opening, even if it was hard work. When he decided to go to College to continue studying, it was without a doubt that he would pick Agriculture. This passion first took him to the University of Alberta, Canada before he moved to Fairbanks, Alaska in the United States.


Peonies in Alaska

Zhang Mingchu is now 60 years old and a very well-established professor in the University of Alaska. Most of his time is spent working on the growing regional peony industry, trying to figure out how to make peonies grow best. Having a second passion for teaching has led him to share his knowledge with growers across Alaska and teaching the science behind growing plants.

He yet admits having one dream he wishes to work on and maybe one day fulfill: “to develop a grain crop perfectly suited to Alaska’s climate and shorter growing season”.


As a researcher specialized in soil and plant nutrition, Zhang Mingchu has recently received the Grower Cup Award, a silver trophy recognizing his work supporting the peony industry. This prize was delivered during the Alaska Peony Growers Association’s winter conference.

Zhang Mingchu is a noble example of someone who has an optimistic and fair view on what life is about.

“Life is short, things can change, but if you have something which benefits people, that’s what I want to do. If people can benefit from crops and plants and be happy, then I am happy.”
Violette R.
Violette is a young French expat ready to go on adventures to introduce you to new places and events in Wuhan. Enthusiastic and joyful, she is passionate when it comes to performing art and has a penchant for old movies and rock’n roll. Her saying: Make them laugh.