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  • Tasting, Savoring, and Enjoying Oven-baked pizza sprinkled with rucola grown on a rooftop

  • SMG 1585

    [Urban Agriculture Special City, creating the cultural foundation for Seoul’s urban farmers]

    • Operation of various programs, including “Daily Meals from Rooftop Vegetable Gardens,” “Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from Urban Vegetable Gardens,” and a cooking class based on seasonal ingredients featuring a “vegetable sommelier” and chef
    • Representatives from nine countries, including Germany and Italy, gather at the 5th Seoul Urban Agricultural Expo to hold discussions under the theme “The Story of Three Beans”
    • Opening of the 60-square-meter Seoul Kitchen Garden at the King’s Kitchen Garden in Versailles, planned to remain in operation until 2020
    • SMG presents the competitiveness and vision of its “Urban Agriculture Special City” concept, forming the foundation for Seoul’s urban farmers based on the culture of urban agriculture it has accumulated over the last five years

    Released earlier this year in April, Brooklyn is an Irish-British-Canadian film directed by John Crowley, the director of the film Boy A, and written by the popular British novelist Nick Hornby based on the Irish writer Colm Toibin’s novel of the same name. Although the film was nominated for Best Picture and Best Actress at the 2016 Academy Awards, it did not attract much attention due to its relatively small scale.

    Public organizations in Britain, including the BFI and BBC, invested USD 10 million in the production of Brooklyn, which premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim and generated USD 60 million in profit. Referring to films created outside the established movie production system and that pursue and remain faithful to the creators’ vision and spirit, independent films began attracting increasing attention in the 1980s. Stranger Than Paradise, directed by Jim Jarmusch, is a prime example of a popular independent film.

    Rooftop vegetable gardens created above subway lines in Japan

    Urban agriculture in Japan began with the use of large areas of land, such as parks and farms. Today, however, several new approaches are being taken in order to overcome the lack of arable land. Particularly worth noting are the voluntary efforts being made in the private sector (in parallel with efforts supported by local autonomies) to invigorate urban farming. Among them is a private business run by Agris Seijo. Located on top of an underground subway tunnel in Japan is a vegetable garden, generally called a “rooftop vegetable garden” created by Odakyu Electric Railway Co., Ltd and managed by Agris Seijio. The company could have used the land to generate profit somehow, but instead, it created a garden on the concrete structure as a means of giving back to the community.

    Eating oven-baked pizza sprinkled with rucola grown on a rooftop garden in Seoul!

    Many people think that Korea is not the kind of country that could have urban rooftop vegetable gardens, but such gardens can be found in Seoul. In fact, the number of urban gardens in the city has been increasing, and they are producing small quantities of vegetables, such as zucchini, eggplant, and perilla leaves. Urban farming in Seoul is no longer based on the familiar concept of “weekend farming,” but rather, it has expanded in scale significantly. An example of this is the “Community Vegetable Garden Project,” which utilizes publicly owned land throughout the city to establish Rooftop Vegetable Gardens. As part of this project, Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has launched “Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from Vegetable Gardens,” a cooking program that uses seasonal agricultural produce with the aim of promoting local food culture. The program will be held in a rooftop vegetable garden in the Gwangheungchang area until October this year.

    Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from Vegetable Gardens

     

    The “Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from Vegetable Gardens” program is comprised of three subprograms: a daily meal program that shows participants how to use the vegetables produced by public rooftop gardens, a cooking program that uses seasonal ingredients and features “vegetable sommeliers” and chefs, and a meal-sharing program for people in socially vulnerable groups that also runs a direct trading market. These programs are becoming increasingly popular, especially because they are free of charge.

    Sharing meals made with agricultural produce from vegetable gardens: Daily meals await

    The “Daily Meals from Rooftop Vegetable Gardens,” held on the second Thursday of every month, is a program where participants can try different foods and learn how to cook various dishes with the produce they grow in their gardens, such as salads and oven-baked pizza with rucola (also known as ‘arugula’). As such, the program is becoming increasingly popular.

    Baking with Herbs program Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from the Vegetable Garden program

     

    The Seasonal Food Class, held on the third Thursday of every month, is a cooking program based on the use of seasonal vegetables. Contributing their expertise to the program, a “vegetable sommelier” and professional chef take part as lecturers and teach participants about the characteristics of and ways of using different agricultural produce as well as how to cook vegetarian meals. On the fourth Thursday, citizens bring the various vegetables they have grown in their gardens, cook together, and share a meal. This is the “Sharing Meals Made with Ingredients from Vegetable Gardens” program, held every Thursday until October. All citizens are welcome to participate.
    (To apply, go to http://cafe.naver.com/pajeori,https://facebook.com/pajeori)

    Festival of food and flavors: A feast for the senses

    With people become increasingly aware of the joy urban farming can bring, a festival has been organized to promote the true value of urban agriculture. The “Mapo-n-Garden Crop Cooking Festival” was held at Neuljang, a place that seems like a combination of a village, community marketplace, exhibition hall, and park, located near Gongdeok Subway Station. This festival promotes the trading of crops grown in urban vegetable gardens in Mapo-gu, and encourages people to cook with them. The participating urban farmers share their farming stories and experiences, providing fun-filled and emotional experience for everyone in attendance. Ricotta cheese with basil, fermented plum liqour, and delicious red tomatoes—these are just some of the food offered by the Haneulpum Team, who cultivated the Bermuda Triangle Vegetable Garden.

    Fried pancakes made with snapdragon and garden nasturtium Tomatoes grown in the Bermuda Triangle Vegetable Garden

     

    There was also a team that offered rucola, which are green leaves commonly used as toppings on margherita pizza. The team originally ran an organic café that offered local food, but their interests gradually expanded to farming. As a result, they are now cultivating rucola on a rooftop vegetable garden on a building across the street from Hongik University.

    Seoul Urban Agriculture Expo: Pursuing the satisfaction of the five senses

    In a bid to promote this culture of urban agriculture, SMG hosts the Seoul Urban Agriculture Expo every year. This year, it was held for a period of three days, from May 19 to 21, and was based on the theme “Surviving Together, Change your Lifestyle.” Representatives from nine countries, including Germany and Italy, gathered together to present a new vision for Seoul, a global “Urban Agriculture Special City.”

    Urban farmers and urban agricultural specialists from nine countries worldwide who visited Seoul during the 5th Seoul Urban Agricultural Expo in 2016

     

    Seoul Kitchen Garden in the King’s Kitchen Garden near the Palace of Versailles, France: We grow lettuce and beans!

    The reason urban farmers from around the world have been taking such a great interest in Seoul is because the city has expanded its efforts beyond cultivating gardens within its city limits to disseminating its culture of urban farming worldwide. The most recent example of this spread of urban farming is the creation of the “Seoul Kitchen Garden” in the King’s Kitchen Garden near the Palace of Versailles, France, which was established more than 330 years ago. Opened in June this year, Seoul Kitchen Garden is managed by the gardener of the King’s Kitchen Garden in Versailles. A signboard gives a brief introduction to the garden, and the crop nameplates are written in both Korean and French.

    King’s Kitchen Garden in Versailles A signboard introducing Seoul Kitchen Garden

     

    Seoul Kitchen Garden covers an area of 60 square meters and will be operated for a period of five years, until 2020. In celebration of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, designated by the UN, Korea selected Korean pulses (white and black beans) as the major crop of Seoul Kitchen Garden. It is hoped that planting crops that are central to the Korean diet will enable the people of France to feel closer to Seoul and Korea in general.

    Embracing nature and making Seoul green

    Since proclaiming 2012 as the first year of urban agriculture in the city, Seoul has implemented various support programs to satisfy various needs among urban farmers, such as education and training, equipment support, and information. In 2015, the “Urban Agriculture 2.0 Master Plan” was adopted. Based on this plan, concrete steps are being taken to create 1,800 urban vegetable farms by 2018, which all citizens can access from their homes within 10 minutes.

    Urban agriculture serves to improve citizens’ lives and plays a role in improving the urban environment and beautifying the city. Urban vegetable gardens become places of learning and play for children as well as venues for communication and understanding among different generations.

    The opportunity to plow the earth and plant seeds on a small plot of land is a huge blessing for citizens who live in apartment complexes, as it allows them to experience the life of a farmer in the city. SMG is fully aware of the happiness urban farming brings, which is why it plans to continue developing and promoting its vision of Seoul as an “Urban Agriculture Special City” in the 21st century based on the urban farming culture that it has nurtured over the past five years.