In Yeoju City, Gyeonggi-do Province is a farm that is not only smart but also helps people with disabilities be self-reliant.
"At this smart farm, cherry tomatoes are being grown by local people with developmental disabilities. Thanks to this workplace, they can support themselves, doing work that has been properly assigned based on their capabilities."
This farm was established recently after a couple donated their property to Purme Foundation hoping to support those with cognitive disabilities including their own son.
Public institutions such as Yeoju City and Korea District Heating Corporation have invested in the farm, along with SK Hynix who promised to pay for the construction cost and become a buyer of the farm's products.
The farm plans to hire around 35 employees with developmental disabilities by the end of October.
"Statistically, disabled people's employment rate is around 50-percent on average. Yet, it is only around 27-percent for people with developmental disabilities, which is much lower than those with other disabilities. They are less likely to be hired and are more in need of financial independence. That is why we first hire people with developmental disabilities."
"Of course there is some trial-and-error for workers because this is their first time working in a smart farm greenhouse. Yet, our biggest principle is not to hire those who can do the work, but rather to assign the work according to their capabilities. I believe as time passes by, they will be able to do a variety of other work."
The founders say smart farms seemed the most suitable as they not only enable year round cultivation, but also peaceful and rewarding work.
"I take care of tomatoes, and when I get my salary I give it all to my parents. I think it is a very delightful job."
Though establishing the farm as a workplace for disabled people might look like a small step, it is small steps like this that lead to a better society.
Kim Bo-kyoung, Arirang News.