Diaconia—CRD is working to improve market access for small-scale farmers in northern Moldova. Along with our Moldovan partner organization, ProCoRe, we train farmers in sustainable farming techniques and farm management and offer classes directly on-site. A crucial aspect of the project is the exchange of knowledge between farmers. In July, Moldovan farmers participated in a week-long intensive study program in the Czech Republic, visiting multiple farms and learning a variety of best practices.
Participants first stopped at Jan Miller’s farm, located in the village of Holubice, not far from Prague. While there, they learned about some of the technology that Mr. Miller uses on his 232-acre diversified dairy farm. Mr. Miller introduced the Moldovans to a project called “Milk From the Farm.” The premise of the project is to get good quality, locally-sourced milk into nearby communities. Customers have the chance to buy fresh milk from a distribution truck that sells and delivers milk throughout the city.
Our Moldovan guests also visited Farm BioVavrinec, in Okrouhlice, not far from the town of Benesova. The owner of the farm, Mr. Antonin Smakal, provided our visitors an excellent example of how to build their farms using environmentally sound practices. Mr. Smakal demonstrated his cheesemaking process and invited us to tour his grain mill, where his farm produces high-quality, organic flour.
Since some farmers from the study group grow mixed vegetables, we also visited Dobra Farma in Maslovice, founded by Vojtech Sykora. Mr. Sykora specializes in growing a variety of pumpkins and squashes. What makes Dobra Farma unique is that Mr. Sykora views his customers as partners. Every year, groups of people come to take part in the pumpkin/squash harvest. Aside from pumpkins and squash, Mr. Sykora grows a large variety of mixed vegetables, all of which are organic.
The second vegetable farm that our study group visited was the Jamboz Family Farm. The owner of the farm, Mr. Milan Jambor, gave the group a tour of his fields where he grows a diverse array of crops. The farm uses as many organic, plant and animal-based fertilizers as possible. The tour ended in the Jamboz family vegetable cellar, where the family sells their harvested crops. In addition to their cellar, they also sell their produce at farmers markets and through CSA programs.
We also visited the farm of Mr. Josef Tichy. Mr. Tichy led us on a tour of his operation, showing our study group his animals, barns, and feeding centers. After the tour, we were treated to homemade cheese made by his wife using traditional recipes and practices.
Back in Prague, we stopped at the Horse Ranch Licomersko. The owner, Mr. Stanislav Svarc, led us through his reclaimed farm land. He also took us through his impressive horse stables and goat stalls. The goats milk is sold for additional income.
The last location our Moldovan partners visited was Srutkova Organic Farm located in Pelhrimova. Mr. Miroslav Srutek’s organic farm raises dairy cows and produce high quality milk and cheese. In addition, the farm also grows potatoes. Unexpectedly, our study group witnessed and helped in the birth of a calf. The Moldovan and Czech farmers worked together to ensure the health of the calf and its mother!
In addition to field visits, Diaconia—CRD organized a conference on Sustainable Farming and Marketing. Presenters spoke about organic and sustainable techniques; marketing and business plan development; and regional market access. It was a very educational and successful trip!