|People take a course on becoming "citizen gardeners" at Sahmyook University in Seoul. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
By Kang Seung-woo
Amid worsening fine dust pollution and growing interest in urban gardening, Seoul City has brought its gardening campaign back again.
"Seoul in Bloom," launched in 2013, is designed to help communities plant flowers and trees in their living spaces for a greener environment. Furthermore the local government hopes it will contribute to creating jobs and boosting the gardening industry.
During its six-year run until 2018, the inaugural event "reaped fruit," as evidenced by 1.08 million participants planting 18.07 million trees. In addition, it raised 12 billion won ($10 million) from 153 companies such as Hyundai Motor, Hanwha and Starbucks as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs after they were encouraged to follow the example of outstanding collaboration between local government and private firms.
As a result, it received rave reviews for its role as a sustainable tool for urban afforestation.
For a more effective second run that will last until 2022, Seoul in Bloom is set to concentrate on boosting a wider urban afforestation, by expanding to schools, government offices and subway stations to purify indoor air; creating garden-specialized towns and expanding gardens on small pieces of land; setting up a platform to spread gardening communities and improve the gardening sector; and increasing public awareness.
Seoul City plans to spend 45.2 billion won for the three-year project.
The second gardening campaign is comprised of 12 projects ― eight new ones and four expanded ones.
|The Seoul Metropolitan Government will run a public relations office for the Garden Support Center until October to raise awareness of its project to create facilities in the 25 districts in the capital by 2022. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
Garden Support Center
The key project of Season II of Seoul in Bloom is, among others, the creation of a Garden Support Center and its expansion into all districts in the capital with a budget of 137.6 million won.
The main center, supposed to be built at Sejongno Park next to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in central Seoul, will help those who want to create a garden on a neglected piece of land or improve their own gardens. It will advise citizens on how to grow plants and teach them how to grow flowers at home.
The city is currently test-running support centers in eight districts ― Jung-gu, Yongsan-gu, Jungnang-gu, Gangbuk-gu, Dobong-gu, Eunpyeong-gu, Yangcheon-gu and Gangdong-gu ― until the end of the year before expanding it to all 25 districts. The centers will staffed by gardeners and other experts in related fields.
Plus, the program's public relations office is in operation in front of the Seoul Metropolitan Library until October to raise awareness of the government's project and offer pieces of gardening knowledge.
"The main center will focus on researching and developing a sustainable tool to maintain and manage gardens and fostering the gardening industry, while those in districts will attempt to build district-specialized gardens and run resident-participation programs," a Seoul City official said.
Sick of deteriorating air quality, caused by high concentrations of fine dust year after year, people are now starting to create gardens indoors as some indoor plants have proven to be effective in purifying the air.
|Students of Myeongil Elementary School in Gangdong-gu, eastern Seoul, take a gardening class as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Government's test-operation of Garden Support Centers in eight districts. / Courtesy of Seoul Metropolitan Government|
With a budget of 88.7 million won, the city government plans to introduce indoor gardens to 10 facilities by 2022 ― five public institutions and five subway stations.
"The venues will include Seoul City Hall and some transfer stations where the public can easily access the indoor gardens," the official said.
"For better growth of plants, we plan to establish an automatic irrigation system and other installations with garden experts' advice."
Meanwhile, the city government plans to hold a launch ceremony for the campaign's brand identity and slogan at Seoul City Hall at 11 a.m., Monday, to celebrate the second run of Seoul in Bloom and raise awareness of the event.
In addition, an exhibition highlighting themes of the campaign's main projects will be held from Monday to Friday at the lobby of Seoul City Hall. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.