A-Reum Song I am a sustainable agriculture
student at Gyeong Sang National University in South Korea. I spent
my summer vacation with my professor and seven team members volunteering
with the research department at The Rodale Institute.
In my country, there is not a very good impression of organic agriculture.
Farmers in South Korea follow similar standards of modern industrial
agriculture dominant in the West. Even the small farmer typically
relies heavily on chemicals. This, I think, is connected with yields.
Commercial farmers think organic yields will be lower due to weed
pressure and the poor quality of soil on land that has historically
been farmed conventionally. A loss of yield can do serious damage
to these farmers.
Most farmers and consumers in South Korea know that organic farming
is being encouraged around the world. We just don’t have access
to the evidence and facts motivating this change. Those who farm
don’t know how to change from conventional agriculture to
organic farming, they don’t understand why they must change,
and they don’t know how such change will affect their profits.
The Rodale Institute is doing a good job answering these questions.
Before coming here, I never saw a field farmed using only organic
practices. I have learned so much. My professor always says “Never
leave soil unclothed.” Bio-mulching is important, he says,
and “as we build up healthy soil, we can produce a healthy
crop.” Now I really know what he is talking about, because
I have seen it with my own eyes. During my time here, I have seen
and felt what organic farming is.
I hope our seven team members will become pioneers of organic agriculture
in Korea. And I hope organic farming will become “normal”
farming and “conventional” farming will someday be the
anomaly, not only in my country but around the world.
Mu Yeong Park In the summer
of 2006, a group of Korean students took on a new adventure. We
traveled to The Rodale Institute’s 333-acre research farm
for an internship program different from anything we could ever
experience in our country.
Seeing organic systems practiced and compared to conventional farming
gave us new facts and new knowledge about agriculture. These include
the knowledge that organic practices such as cover cropping and
limited and no tillage improve both the fertility and the water-holding
capacity of the soil. These ideas have given us fresh insight.
Another new concept for us was Community Supported Agriculture
(CSA). I think this growing movement shows the concern many Americans
share about agriculture and that they are willing to support organic
farmers. And the fact that many young farmers take so much pride
in the growing organic agriculture movement is a big difference
compared to Korea.
I am sure that sustainable agriculture students from my university
will continue to visit The Rodale Institute. I want to say to them:
- Don’t bring your anxiety. If you don’t have a strong
mind, the whole team will be weak together.
- Do prepare. There is no time for preparing in the U.S.
- Do what’s in front of you with full focus. If you don’t
lose an opportunity, there is more to gain.
I want to say thank you very much to all the kind people who have
helped us during our time in the United States.