SEOUL, May 10 (Korea Bizwire) – As Korea’s baby boom generation who were born between 1955 and 1963 are retiring, more and more people find new homes in the countryside.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the number of households that moved away from urban areas to the farmland last year was 32,424, with the number of people reaching 56,267, an eight-fold increase from only five years ago.
Even though one can leave the asphalt roads and concrete walls quite easily, it is not as easy to move the whole livelihood for anyone who has spent the whole life in cities. For those who pine for pastoral life but are unable to do so for any reason, the government will open up national land hitherto restricted for development to urban dwellers for small farms.
The agriculture ministry will, in consultation with the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transportation and other local governments, soon announce the details of the plan. Since 2004, the land ministry has bought a total of 21.2 million square meters of land within the development restricted areas.
Of these, the ministry will make available about 343,000 square meters of land areas that are appropriate for light cultivation or leisure spaces. Once the land ministry supplies the lands to local governments in the form of third-party consignment, the local governments will give out the lands in small plots to anyone within their jurisdiction free of charge.
The main reason the land ministry came up with the idea was based on a survey it took recently. According to the survey results, asking to what ends the land within the development restricted areas should be used, the No. 1 answer was small weekend farms. Indeed, the desire of city people to farm is strong.
Earlier in 2011, the agriculture ministry announced a plan to open 8,000 small plots of land in undeveloped sites and even rooftops of public buildings such as schools within and around cities.
The latest decision by the agriculture ministry is a welcome change for urban dwellers who had to settle for growing vegetables in their own backyard gardens, “illegally” using someone else’s abandoned land, or rooftop gardens. This is especially good news for those interested in the local food movement who want to grow their own food without relying on the food industry.
Written by Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)
contributed by Sean Chung (email@example.com)