Urban farms give city folk ‘food sovereignty’ in Korea
The Agriculture Ministry announced in June it will push for measures to encourage over 5 million city dwellers, about 10 percent of the country’s entire population, to participate in urban farming by 2020.
By Kim Mi-ju
Korea Joongang Daily
Sept 16, 2011
When Choi Chang-hwan, a 71-year-old retired oil company worker, wakes up every morning to sweet chirpings of sparrows, his top priority isn’t turning the pages of the morning newspaper while waiting for breakfast, like other aged Korean men.
After jumping out of bed, Choi goes straight to the rooftop of his two-story house in Junghwa-dong, northeastern Seoul, to check the progress of his homegrown vegetables.
“There’s nothing like planting a seed, nurturing it and harvesting it,” Choi said. “It’s amazing to see how vegetables go from my roof to my table. I water them every day and feed them with compost. The seeds sprout and the vegetables grow beautifully.”
Choi said he needs to check his crops every morning to make sure seeds and vegetables aren’t attacked by sparrows, pigeons or bugs.
“I don’t use harmful pesticides,” he said. “I use a small metal pincer to pick bugs off the crops. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it.”
Choi is just one of a growing army of urban farmers in Korea.