Cultivating Hope ? Urban Farmers

The city is becoming greener with little farms
on the rooftop and between townhouses. Urban farming makes city life healthier, tastier
and happier. Meet urban farmers who are fostering the 6th
Industrial Revolution in farming. Here is a typical urban area with many skyscrapers,
but up close, you can see a quite rare scene in the city. Instead of concrete, the ground is filled
with soil in which all kinds of vegetables are growing, ranging from lettuce to tomatoes
and eggplants. These hard-working farmers are the owners
of this rooftop farm. They are not professional farmers. They all have their respective professions
but gather in this farm on the weekend for their crops. With membership fees of 10 to 50 US dollars,
everyone can become a farmer and enjoy nature’s abundance. “It feels like I’m on a treasure hunt, and
I’m very proud of the crops I planted.” “To me, farming is more like enjoying a walk
than working. Along the way, I get delicious, fresh and
healthy food.” The rooftop farm produces enough crops for
the members to share, but in fact, it’s not the best place for farming. In usual rooftop farms, farmers build garden
beds or spread soil on the ground to raise crops. Both methods have some challenges. Nevertheless, those difficulties are incomparable
with the joy of planting, growing and harvesting crops. These urban farmers not only raise crops here;
they also cultivate friendship and happiness with the fellow farmers. “Through the act of farming, we hope to encourage
the public to think more about nature, healthy food, Korea’s native specialties and the
local food movement. We pursue diverse activities to highlight
those issues.” Urban farming is popular in many countries
around the world. Germany, for instance, encourages urban farming
on a national scope, mainly flowers, beyond its title as Europe’s industrial powerhouse. Also, each state government in the United
States has enacted some ordinances to form the best environment for the citizens to cultivate
crops. As of 2016, the number of urban farmers in
Korea was at 1.5 million, more than tenfold compared to the figure of 2010. There’s one critical reason why urban farming
has become such an important issue throughout the world. “Korea is a small country with high population
density, so many conditions are unfavorable for farming. Nonetheless, Korean agriculture is known for
its intensive methods and added value. Based on those strengths, I believe farming
will fuel the happiness of urban dwellers. I call agriculture the “business of happiness,”
and it is sure to boost our quality of life dramatically. Some farmers are now trying to make profits
by farming, pushing it beyond a hobby. And they are here in Haengchon , central Seoul. Run by 23 urban farmers in the neighborhood,
this farm received an official certification as an urban farming community last year. Their first goal was to build a farm that
fulfilled their purpose. With a large outdoor farm 230m2(meter square)
in size and 140 garden beds, every nook of the neighborhood is used as farmland. These farmers grow their own plants from seeds. Earlier this year, they planted and raised
a total of 50 thousand seedlings and made some profit. “As for this year, we raised and sold seedlings
worth approximately US$5,000. The members also grew crops from those seedlings
in their gardens or garden beds and made extra profits.” They also opted for plants with high yields
for small spaces, like herbs and chrysanthemums. 100 stocks of chrysanthemums, which will be
in full bloom soon, are set to be supplied to the local borough office. Also, a total of 14 medical herbs and crops
are currently under cultivation tests. All members are novice farmers, but they all
have years of experience growing plants and garden beds. They received adequate training to learn how
to plant and grow herbs and other medicinal plants to become real farmers in the city. They set some principles they must follow
regarding farming with a strong sense of professionalism. “As soon as we enlarge our cultivation area
and secure a sufficient yield, we hope to create a model for the 6th Industrialization
of Urban Agriculture, which includes processing for commercial packaging.” Urban farmers strive to produce healthy food
and make their cities green. They are not only cultivating crops, they
are cultivating hope in the city for the future generations.

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