Recently, more and more people are considering farming. According to a survey done by Moneyweek, 90 percent of people responded with “Yes” to the question “Do you want to live outside of the big city?” Also, in response to “Have you ever considered becoming a farmer?," 53.9 percent of people said they have considered the idea once or twice. Because of the toughness of life in the city, lots of people dream of living in rural areas, and these people are not only those in their 40s or 50s but also include people in their 20s. Five people who shared this interest—farming—gathered to establish the club Intelligentsia (INT). The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met Intelligentsia to talk about its unique interest.
SMT Intelligentsia is unlike other clubs. How did it get started?
INT Since our former representative, Shim Hongsub, owned a weekend farm when he was young, he had lots of interest in, he felt society needed a change, so he envisioned this change through farming as a place of healing. He asked a landowner running Hong’s Farm in Buam-dong, Jongno-gu, if he would be interested in allowing people to weekend farm on his land. Hearing the club’s goal, the landowner sympathized with the goal and offered to lend good needed for farming for free. With his support, the farm successfully led to a harvest of crops. Profit earned from the selling of our crops was donated. In addition to selling crops to raise money for donation, we also spread the importance of farming and awareness of organic food.
SMT Would you please tell us about activities of Intelligentsia?
INT We gather every Sunday to tend a vegetable garden. Since we cannot farm from December to February, we have an annual meeting to discuss the year’s plan. Successful farming is not done by caring for crops once a week. They need constant care. We have eight teams and each team consists of five people. The teams manage the vegetables every Wednesday and Thursday in rotation.
SMT Please share an interesting farming story.
INT It is difficult to farm chilies and cabbage. We suffered failure both in 2012 and 2013. We completely understood the tears of farmers. We shed tears every time we saw our crops ruined due to typhoons, the rainy seasons, cold fronts, epizootics, and harmful insects. Every member felt frustrated since they were one of our yearly goods. It is really hard to farm chilies and cabbage without pesticides, so we failed often. Still, we did not give up. Despite failure, we have vowed to never give up, and stay true to our motto of not using pesticides.
SMT What is the most attractive point of Intelligentsia?
INT It is “soundness.” Since members are a group of people sincerely interested in nature, the environment, and organic farming, they are all sound. For example, all members, with the exception of one, are nonsmokers, and we usually spend time at cafés, not bars, since members do not enjoy drinking. Also, when we go on retreats, we try to avoid use of disposable products.