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Olena Tovsta, Ukrainian farmer: ‘The Slow Food network saved my farm’

When her husband got drafted into the military at the starting of the war, Olena Tovsta identified herself alone handling the whole relatives farm, named Dobro Craft, in the Gadiach countryside, in the Poltava region. 

Via the campaign With each other for the Sluggish Foodstuff Communities in Ukraine, she been given sources that allowed keep the farm alive, and now she tells us her tale:

Because the start out of what Moscow calls a ‘special operation’, the army administration reviews that only all through April 5 missiles strike some infrastructure in the area, and additional bought fired into the location.

The circumstance on the ground has not transformed for the greater, even in which there is no military motion: the full inhabitants of Ukraine life less than the regular threat of missile attacks. We are tired and worried, but we are making an attempt to resist. 

Resilience on a farm where by do the job the operate goes on

“Our farm has often been relatives-operate, with the enable of a few seasonal staff. Just before the war, we experienced 84 goats, but then we experienced to provide a handful of to make cash to include our desires. Nowadays in our Dobro Craft stay 79 goats, 55 little ones, 40 old goats, 3 ponies, and a single milk cow. We increase grass for haymaking on rented land, and we are actually in the scorching season, which means a good deal of work”.

Our animals are living absolutely free pretty much all 12 months spherical, all through winter season they acquire shelter in the stables, from wherever they nevertheless appear out at the very least once a day. We feed the goats with a combination of protein grains. There is generally hay and dry fodder in the feeders, and we incorporate whey, which we give to all our animals. We usually try to retain a balanced and wholesome food plan for them.

How lifestyle goes on for smaller farmers throughout a war

Other than acquiring feeding for our animals, one of the primary challenges is acquiring gasoline: both it is far too high priced, or there is none. Given that all the oil refineries have been blown up and a lot of gasoline stations bombed, there is little gasoline in the place, and what is offered is given to the frontline, critical infrastructure, and large farmers. Consequently, farmers like us obtain modest amounts at a quite superior cost. This complicates a whole lot all the procedures and raises creation fees. Of study course, we did not give up, and to go to town or to consider our items to consumers

We rented bicycles. As you can think about, it is not a stroll in the park.

As if that had been not ample, those people who purchased our merchandise – for case in point, moms with little ones – experienced to flee, and now farmers are forced to market their merchandise at a loss to have sufficient to survive.

In the territories liberated by the occupiers, the circumstance is worse, the Russians took absent everything they did not damage: tractors, seeders, all the tools.

My spouse proceeds to provide, and as feasible, he solves our spouse and children and domestic difficulties above the cell phone. My youngsters – 18, 14, and 7 many years outdated – support me deal with the do the job, but it is not easy. They are at residence, finding out on the net whilst the online relationship is unstable, and we are a lot more existing on the farm because there is a large amount of work. I have some assistants, but we had to decrease staff members since we simply cannot sustain the salaries.

Even though struggling, Olena has tried using not to neglect that she is aspect of a local community, and in this distinct time period, those most in require are the types who acquire her goods. 


“We consider to fulfill the group needs, so there is not a lot of solution that we sell concerning milk and cheese. Sluggish Food’s assistance has hence been essential. The movement responded promptly to our farm complications during the war and supplied us with money guidance, and we obtained some goat feed. Without having this assist, there would possibly be no farm, or I would cut down it to 10 goats, and I never even know if the cow and pony would be specified away or slaughtered. I would not have prevail over all the operate. We are pretty grateful and happy to be portion of this global community. We believe that its philosophy can be a seed of peace for the reconstruction of the country”. 

Gradual Food supports the community in Ukraine via two tasks. 

1. Help you save Ukrainian biodiversity – aims to support all those who, even in periods of war, have not left their farms and in the most difficult circumstances, jeopardizing their lives, protect the most beneficial animal breeds, plant types, and tactics, those people that nourish the area community, that feed the foreseeable future. 

2. Holding understanding alive – aims to create twinning involving Ukrainian Gradual Food stuff Communities and counterparts across Europe: females cheesemakers question colleagues  

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