Health nuts, foodies and organic-produce-loving foreigners in Korea rejoice! If you’re still looking for affordable organic produce and you dig the idea of supporting local farmers, look no further. Gachi CSA is almost in your backyard, almost.
Started in January of 2014, Gachi CSA is a foreigner-friendly community supported agriculture system (CSA) based in Seoul catering to all you waygookin in South Korea. A CSA is a system in which consumers buy a subscription to a farm or a group of farms and in return they receive fresh food on a periodic basis. With baskets starting as low as 27,000 won per week, Gachi provides affordable organic produce and most importantly, supports sustainable, local agriculture.
A CSA is a local food subscription that establishes a farm-to-table relationship between farmer and consumer. Gachi subscribers can choose from a wide variety of box options and add-ons including snacks, fruit, juice, meat and bread.
“If we can’t produce something we can get help from other communities,” says the man behind the idea, farmer Byung-Soo Kim of Hansol Farm, a Gachi contributing farm.
“Many foreigners come here to teach English or to work and they stay in Seoul. Since we are so close to Seoul, they would come to visit the farm and experience Korean rural culture and farm work through WWOOF Korea,” he says. WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and it is a program where people can volunteer on organic farms in exchange for food and accommodation.
Hansol Farm is tucked away just outside of Seoul on a Paldang valley, next to a charming small river in Gyeonggi province. Here Byung-Soo raises chickens and goats and farms strawberries, herbs, grapes, carrots, and radishes all while hosting wwoofers and volunteers.
“When I first started in organic farming I had two goals: to organize a community of farmers and to organize a consumer cooperative,” he says.
Gachi was born organically in January 2014 out of the WWOOFER community which was mostly made up of foreigners. Byung-Soo saw a demand for fresh, locally grown organic foods as a WWOOF. Soon other farmers began to join in. These days Gachi CSA sources foods from up to 20 farms.
In Korean Gachi means “together”, and also “value”. The organization lives up to its name, frequently hosting community events like potluck dinners, farm tours, cooking classes, and more.
“Many foreigners I meet here in Korea are very interested in organic foods, but they just don’t know where to go,” says Dan Salesses, a WWOOFER currently at Hansol Farms.
There is a strong emphasis on building, sharing, and sustaining a community. With a strong presence on Facebook, subscribers can share recipes and suggestions based on the week’s produce box.
“This CSA was the most accessible. Everything was in English. I liked that the CSA was open to what the community wanted. It’s a more direct system. It’s literally farm to table,” Jennifer Chi, a Gachi subscriber since its launch this past January.
In the future, Gachi hopes to continue to build a sustainable system that underscores and celebrates partnerships between rural organic farmers and consumers.
For Gachi subscription information, news, and events you can visit their Facebook.
For more information on WWOOF Korea please visit wwoofkorea.org.
Photo Cred: Carmen Rodriguez of Seoulsync | WOOFCSA