Over the course of 2021, thanks to your continuous support, we’ve been planting seeds for building sustainable communities through various educational programs. Looking at ways to address climate change, energy efficiency, waste management, organic gardening, peace-building, we focused on training multipliers like school teachers and young activists. As they address these topics in their own communities, they start building local resiliency.
A friend of mine recently said: “Build communities in peaceful times to be able to face a crisis together”. As the war in Ukraine rages on, as more and more Ukrainian refugees come to Moldova, these words ring the bell more than ever.
I can not forget the morning of February 24 when all our family woke up from the sounds of explosions coming from the neighboring Ukraine. Since that day, along countless other initiatives around the country, our Training Center shifted its operation from organizing educational events to hosting Ukrainian families fleeing their homes. In less than a month over 130 people found a safe place at EcoVillage Moldova and multiple host families in our village. Over 360,000 Ukrainian refugees came to Moldova since the beginning of war, about 2/3 travelling further to Europe.
It has been a great test for all of us to see how strong are the partnerships, organizational capacity, community resilience in facing unexpected challenges like this war in our region. But It showed once again the importance of strong communities that allows for mobilization of resources on a short notice, exchange of vital information and timely support where needed.
Thank you for being part of this community and for your continuous engagement!
Current pandemic showed us clearer than ever the importance of health and community resilience. Our School Garden initiative aims at addressing both.
In partnership with the National Environmental Center we’ve turned an abandoned piece of land at the back of the school into a garden. After a series of educational workshops on soil protection, composting, garden planning and nutrition, students designed the school garden and started planting. Rows of currants, blackberries, gooseberries and raspberries filled up the garden. To protect the berries, beneficial companion plants were planted by students, such as thyme, lemon balm, calendula, mint and other. Part of the harvested berries and medicinal plants will be used by the school canteen, another part will be sold to provide additional income to the school.
Through this initiative about 90 students of the local school are learning in practice about organic agriculture, social entrepreneurship and healthy nutrition. Similar initiatives started in 7 other schools around Moldova and in June teachers from those schools came to our village for a practical workshop and exchange of experiences.
We invite you to partner with us in developing this initiative further by securing a drip irrigation system for the garden. Your 10$ donation would buy 50 m. of drip irrigation pipe, 40$ would get a simple pump and 75$ would cover the cost of a one ton water tank for rain water collection.
This year brought a lot of challenges in each of our lives, but together we can overcome many challenges and build resiliency. Just as small drops of water from drip irrigation nurture the plant during droughts, any contribution will nurture this initiative. Whether you are able to donate or spread a word about this initiative, we’ll sincerely appreciate it!
As the world started to slow down in the face of a global pandemic, it offered all of us a chance to re-think what we do, how we do it and why. For our project the quarantine brought a new challenge of shifting most trainings on-line, cancelling planned camps and seminars, re-thinking financial sustainability. But it also gave us the space to re-design our garden, upgrade our rainwater collection system and focus more on organizational development.
Aiming to become more educational, our garden was re-designed to include a clear crop rotation plan, promote biodiversity, measure precipitation levels and demonstrate water conservation and soil rehabilitation techniques in gardening, like terracing, mulching, composting.
Last autumn we installed 2 water tanks (of 20 and 28 tons) to collect more rainwater. Despite a serious 8-month drought this season, we managed to collect 40 tons of water this winter from hoarfrost thawing on the roofs and a single small snowfall. Collected rainwater has been used for garden irrigation and construction needs. We’d like to promote rainwater collection among people in our village to reduce instances of some households at the beginning of the water pipeline losing access to drinking water when other people down the line use it for irrigation.
COVID-19 showed once more the importance of building resiliency and sustainability on a local level. For us, it means working with our neighbors on climate adaptation measures, eco-friendly gardening, developing structures for seed sharing, local food markets and more importantly, encouraging mutual support and care within community.
This is the time when many sustainability practices explored in ecovillages can become mainstream and your contribution for projects like ours could make all the difference.
We value your support in these challenging times and cherish our partnership!
As many of you may already know, Eco-Village Moldova is situated in a small village in the heart of Moldova called Rîscova. Rîscova, despite its small size, is well-known in Chisinau public markets for its potatoes. After the success of our first annual Rîscova Potato Festival in 2018, we founded Cartoful Rîscovean, a cooperative that grows potatoes without the use of insecticides, fungicides, or any chemical fertilizers. The cooperative is made up of Rîscova locals, and for today’s report, we interviewed one of the producers, Aurica.
Although originally from the village of Cocieri on the other side of the Dneister River, Aurica has been living in Rîscova for over three decades now. Aurica married a local from Rîscova and has two children who have since moved away after starting their own families. Prior to the project, Aurica could often be found tending to the fields and taking care of things at home.
“I joined Cartoful Rîscovean for a number of reasons, but from the top of my head, I’d started to become more interested in learning about ecological agriculture recently, especially after more and more interactions with Eco-Village [Moldova]. My primary motivation is for produce that goes to our children’s table to be healthier, so I wanted to learn how to grow more natural potatoes and other crops [to create that] healthier society.”
Aurica was one of our first producers and to this day, is one of our most enthusiastic producers. Prior to joining the collective, Aurica and her husband had been selling potatoes at a farmer’s market in the city; now, through Cartoful Rîscovean, they sell at an ecological farmer’s market. Growing potatoes more naturally has not always been easy for the local producers, and there have been some growing pains in the switch. In order to help guide them through the change, we brought in an expert in organic agriculture to help the producers.
“Producing natural potatoes is quite difficult, without the use of insecticides, it becomes a lot of work to deal with the [Colorado potato] beetles. Especially when everyone else uses insecticides, the beetles come to our land more often. Despite that, the expert and the coordinator [for Cartoful Rîscovean] have both given us a lot of encouragement and help. In fact, through the project, it has been significantly easier for us to find buyers and we have been able to sell our potatoes much more easily.”
Outside of the project, Aurica has expressed greater interest in learning about more ecological agriculture and permaculture, so she has recently joined us at the Eco-Village to help in our garden.
“I’ve learned a lot from working in the garden at Eco-Village Moldova as well. Mostly, I’ve learned about many different types of produce that I’d never seen before: sweet potatoes and different types of leafy greens, like kale. It has been great learning about different methods of growing vegetables and plants and how they interact with one another.”
Aurica and her husband have agreed to continue with the Cartoful Rîscovean project and at the Eco-Village. Although new, she has already made a great impression with her friendliness and diligence and we look forward to her company for years to come.
As Eco-Village Moldova has grown, our team too has expanded over the years. Today, we are happy to introduce our newest member of the Eco-Villlage Moldova team, Tatiana Cebotari. Originally from the capital city of Chisinau, Tatiana moved to our village with her family eight years ago. Tatiana officially began working for us in February and has truly come into her own in terms of project planning, coordination, and logistics. Following the example of our “Through the Eyes of a Volunteer” report from last year, we would like to share Tatiana’s perspective and impressions, as our newest team member here at the Eco-Village and as a local Moldovan.
“I did not know about the Eco-Village for a long time, largely because our village did not have a proper park or any sort of area for people to gather, or simply relax, so we often left to the city to visit relatives. I had only found out about Eco-Village Moldova when my sister-in-law called me mentioning that some people at an NGO in our village needed babysitting help. It was the first time I’d heard that there was such an organization in our village and was surprised to learn of its existence, but I decided to take the job.”
“My first impressions were that the people here were very simple and open. They were people with such interesting ideas on how to live. At the time, I didn’t know anything about the organization itself, but the people at the organization had a strong impression on me. It was fascinating seeing these people not only be working while caring for their children, but also be actively concerned about the wellbeing of others.”
“I became more involved in Eco-Village, funnily enough, when I was thinking of looking for a more stable job in Chisinau. During my time babysitting, I’d heard that Eco-Village was looking to expand their team. They offered me a role and after discussing it with my husband, I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to try it out. From then on, I was part of the team.”
“My first task was a big one! Wanting to be more involved with the community and create a greater sense of community spirt within the village itself, Eco-Village Moldova decided to work with the locals to start our first annual Potato Festival. My first task was to work alongside Liliana and co-coordinate the community event. It was a large responsibility, but I remember feeling excited that they had had enough trust in me to give me such an integral role in such a large event.”
“To say it in one word, my role nowadays is ‘logistics.’ I often work within the Eco-Training Center to help prepare the space for sessions and seminars. I ensure that everything is organized and that the facilitators have everything that they need for their sessions. I help purchase food for our sessions as well.
Working here, I have seen that there are some brave people here who left the city and started at zero to live here in a village. It is refreshing to meet people who aren’t only thinking about themselves, but also about the people around them. The people at the Eco-Village help the locals in the village and their mission of environmentalism and ecology helps every one of us. Working here at the Eco Training Center, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many different people from all around Moldova and from around the region.”
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