Thursday, September 24, 2009

Urban Agriculture, continued

By request I documented a bit more of the agriculture in my town. My last post had pictures of gochu (peppers) drying on the road. Now that garden has some sort of grain(?) laid out there:

Even closer to my apartment is this tree where an old woman and a young child were shaking and collecting its fruit [Update: Actually, I think this might be a ginkgo tree, in which case the fruit collection is for reasons of quality of life, not agriculture]:
Here are the other twelve farms directly adjacent to the path I take to work every day (there are at least as many within sight but not actually bordering the streets I take):

1: Across the street from the last post's garden there is an English academy (which are also ubiquitous) that has a vegetable garden along with some animal hutches:
The rooster that lives in here crows when I come home at five in the morning to emphasize that I have been up far too late:

6, complete with ajima working in the field. The house behind it was another garden lot when I got here, so maybe in a year these will be mansions too:

9, which is the first of them to be more than a hundred yards from my apartment:

10, which looks like an abandoned lot from one side, but then you see that a strip of it has been cultivated:

11, which has a semi-permanent produce store set up next to it that might sell vegetables from that very garden (though the fruit is certainly from farther away):

12, which is rather high up:

Most of these gardens grow peppers, squash, lettuce, cabbage, and grains. I've also seen tomatoes, green onions, beans, and other plants I haven't identified.



I remember one of your first pictures from your hikes around the hills surrounding the city you live in (I won't even attempt to spell it, and I'm too lazy to go back and look it up), and it seemed that it was just full of identical-looking apartment buildings. Are there many private homes in Korea, or at least in your city? If not, it seems like that might be a reason why there is empty space for gardens and farms. I remember in Japan that all the space that wasn't steep mountains was covered, either by buildings or sometimes farms (at least outside of Tokyo). However, there seemed to be quite a few more free-standing homes and not quite as many tall apartment buildings (again, not in Tokyo, but Kyoto springs to mind as having lots of homes or 2-3 story buildings).

I'd be curious to see how you think Korea compares to other Asian countries when you have a chance to travel.

Ben Colahan

What type of people grow and harvest the food? Is this urban agriculture something that everyone in the city does or are there professional urban farmers?

I noticed that you mentioned a young child and an elderly woman harvesting. Is this work primarily assigned to members of the family who would otherwise be unproductive in an urban setting or do working adults also participate?


I think the people who work the fields are professional farmers. It certainly doesn't seem to be a hobby like with the community gardens at Reed. I've only ever seen the one child helping out with fruit collection, but most of the agriculture workers I do see are older, so I wonder if your theory has merit.

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