Tucked away in a dark, damp corner of an underground parking lot in Nowon-gu, northeastern Seoul, mushrooms mature under fluorescent lights.
The vertical farm is tended by residents who live right above it, in Sanggye Hyundai Apartment Complex.
Together, the residents grow, share and sell the mushrooms, donating the profits to local charities and welfare centers.
About five kilometers south, residents of Nowon Energy Zero housing complex, known for its energy-efficient apartment and villa designs, come together to tend small box gardens.
Seoul is now home to a thriving network of community gardens. The number of urban farms increased six-fold in the last seven years, bringing the total area of such green spaces in Seoul to 170 hectares ― about the size of 238 football fields.
"We refer to these participating groups as urban farming communities," said Lee Byung-hun, a city official in charge of the urban farm projects.
"The main focus of these projects is not supplying food; it's about the social experience the urban farms can bring to residents. We're also providing hands-on gardening experience and environmental education to children at urban farms set up next to kindergartens."