Urban farming gets popular in Korea
Lately, cities and agriculture are united again. The number of urban farming participants grew from 150,000 in 2010 to 1 million last year. Total size of urban kitchen gardens has increased by 6.4 times to 668 hectares. Nurseries and elementary schools have launched a School Farm gardening project, and 3,500 schools have kitchen gardens now.
Urban farming is a global trend. In the United States, the guerilla gardening of planting in abandoned urban spaces is turning the urban environment into beautiful ecological spaces. In Japan, rice paddies are set up in Ginza, Tokyo, for growing rice.
The urban vegetable gardens are ecological spaces and a part of natural design. As a space of communication in the civil society for sharing and empathy, urbanites find peace of mind and health from the kitchen gardens. They are also reminded of the forgotten values of agriculture and farming. 66 percent of the elementary school students who have experienced gardening try out the vegetables they had not eaten. 67.6 percent of the people who have vegetable gardens are willing to buy domestic agricultural products, 7.7 percent higher than those who have no urban farming experience.
In order to vitalize urban farming, the government plans to expand the functions of urban farming from growing produces to relaxation and healing. By building the “Nationwide Urban Farming Network” of the central government, local government agencies, farmers and agricultural organizations, both the urbanites and farmers benefit from urban farming projects. In cooperation with the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, unused lands in state-owned greenbelt can be utilized as vegetable gardens.
And the Ministry of Education plans to operate children’s gardening classes as a part of the better dietary life campaign. April is designated as the month of urban farming vitalization to expand and solidify the foundation of urban farming with programs for adults and children.
Urban farming can turn the grey city into a green ecological city and offer the welfare of sharing to the underprivileged class. Moreover, the urbanites become friendly neighbors, and children are reminded of the value of life in the class setting in the nature. It is also the bridge between city and country. This spring, every Korean citizen should grow vegetables in the garden and enjoy health, relaxation and happiness of life.
by Lee Dong-pil, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs