South Korean sustainable ag students lend a hand
This past summer, The Rodale Institute® was proud to host a group of volunteer interns from the Department of Agronomy at Gyeongsang National University in the Republic of Korea.

By Dan Sullivan
Posted November 10, 2005

Six students and their professor, Jin Yong Choe, PhD, spent two weeks working aside the research staff at The Rodale Institute®. They also visited The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Some of these students had grown up on farms while others found their calling later in life. But each had this in common: They’d all been captivated by the teachings of Dr. Choe, a pioneering researcher in his country’s very young field of sustainable agriculture.

We asked Dr. Choe and his students to share a few words about themselves and their experiences visiting the United States. Here’s what they had to say:

Dr. Jin Yong Choe
“Our sustainable agriculture is not fully established yet, which means we are still very much dependent on conventional farming practices. To convert conventional farmers to organic farming, we face much difficulty. Farmers are very reluctant and feel less confident without chemicals. It’s difficult to get people supporting sustainable agriculture with its sound philosophy rooted in an understanding of nature…After visiting The Rodale Institute, I have changed my mind, I think, from supporting sustainable agriculture to promoting organic farming. I am persuaded to do that.”

Cheon Woong Kyoo (Woods)
“I have learned here by doing, with my body. I have seen conventional agriculture soils and organic soils and it has been very interesting. Conventional soils produce erosion; organic soils produce mycchorizae, other beneficial micro-organisms and soil organic matter. I have seen that soil is very important to the health of the plant.”

Jeong Tae Kyeong (Tony)
“…When I came to The Rodale Institute I learned about organic farming and saw that some weeds growing within the crops was okay. I see that low input, no chemical agriculture is possible.”

Park Jae Hyun
“Agricultural research is divided into two camps: biotech and sustainable agriculture. In my case, I am more interested in sustainable agriculture. Here at The Rodale Institute, we have been learning about soil and it’s effect on crops…We will establish a good organic system in Korea, I hope, as soon as possible.”

Jo Hyun Su (Josephine)
“Studying organic agriculture at UC Santa Cruz and here, I have seen the importance of community. Everywhere, there is activity. Korean culture is very different. Koreans always sit down in a chair and study, but here the students are very active.”

Oh Yeong Mi
“My father is a farmer. When I was young I helped him and I saw that conventional agriculture is very dangerous, so I decided on another type of agriculture when I entered the Department of Agronomy at Gyeong Sang National University. Here at The Rodale Institute, I have learned more about the importance of soil.”

Ha Tae Cheol (Chuck)
“Here I have learned that you do not feed the plant, but you feed the soil. That, to me, is a very nice idea.”