Herbmania takes root as tourists look to health

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Herbmania takes root as tourists look to health


Jasmine, rosemary, lavender, peppermint and chamomile are just a few of the 300 different plant species and herbs in the gardens at Farm Herbnara in Gangwon.
Herbnara means “Herb Nation” in Korean.
Here visitors can enjoy colorful flowers and plants and taste herbal teas and organic breads.
Not far from the garden is a number of log houses where visitors can sleep over.
Herbnara opened its doors in 2003 and every year approximately 500,000 people visit.
Now it has become a major tourist attraction in the Gangwon region.
Lee Ho-soon, 64, who runs the place, said he started the garden as a personal hobby after he retired.
But as the number of visitors grew over the years, so has the size of the garden.
The so-called herb resort — a place of relaxation, tourism and culture centered on plants and trees — has surfaced as a new industry.
Unlike in the past, when the garden was full of only plants and flowers, the herb resorts have incorporated restaurants, cafes and lodging that fill the needs of visitors stopping by to relax.
As of last year, 37 botanical gardens nationwide have registered with the government.
The Korea Forest Service estimates that, including gardens that are not registered but over a certain size, that number will probably exceed 80.
Among these gardens, government-owned national gardens total 24, and the rest are private.
Many of these gardens have galleries, restaurants and accommodation.
“Including places with titles like ‘tourist farm,’ botanical gardens and similar facilities have increased in large numbers,” said Lee Soon-ok, an official at the Korea Forest Service.
Herb Island, in Pocheon, Gyeonggi, first started as a greenhouse for herbal plants. Today it not only provides a herbal massage service but also lodging, a bakery, a bookstore, a cafe and a lot more.
Gallery in the Garden, which opened in 2005 in Hongseong, South Chungcheong, runs a museum and a traditional furniture shop in addition to its botanical garden.
It also puts on a nature camp for elementary school students.
The motto of Sangsoo’s Herb is “All about herbs.” With 1,000 different herb species, the garden not only runs an indoor exhibition but also a restaurant that specializes in flower products, a lecture hall and an herb farm.

By Choi Joon-ho JoongAng Sunday [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]
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