Friday, May 4, 2012

SOUL & ADVENTURE: Eva Goes Organic- Interview 2012 April (Part1). A post about volunteering on organic farms.

Evi is my friend who goes on a study trip to learn about organic farming. It will last 1 year and is starting now. She will visit organic farms in Hungary and in other countries of Europe, and we discussed that at the end of each month I will make an interview with her to sum up her latest experiences and impressions. I am looking forward to it and I am really glad that she agreed to it.

Evi`s blog, here you find the complete interview in the original Hungarian version
The site is at this point only in Hungarian, but the English version is coming soon.

The history of organic farming :

Eva Goes Organic- Interview 1

Making the decision

- Do you think that living in Budapest was leading to this process to some extent?

- Absolutely. I was born in Vásárosnamény which is located by the Tisza-river in Hungary. I grew up in a condominium and did not really have too much to do with agriculture, especially not to the organic one. On the other hand I keep strong "taste memories" of the taste of our local products, for example the apples from Szabolcs (region in Hungary) or the plum jam made of the plums from Bereg (region in Hungary). You just simply can not buy anything tasting so good in the shops. 
I have been living in Budapest for 10 years now and during this time sometimes I used the services what a big city can offer to more, sometimes to less extent. All of us might know the positive and the down sides of living in a big city. There is more job opportunities here and also the cultural life is really vivid. The downsides are the overcrowded public transportation system, the jammed roads, the frustrated and alienated people, the fast-paced life. 
In the countryside there is peace, you are close to nature and the community keeps together, but in contrary you have to bear village rumors, the infrastructure is not so good, and there is less job and cultural opportunities.

- Were the blogs which you list in your Blogroll influencing you in your decision?

- Yes, I have been bookmarking these blogs for a while. The conscious consumption, the couch-surfing, the aquaponia, the positive thinking, the wwoofing, all contributed to my adventure for some logical or emotional reason and shaped my worldview.

- Why exactly organic farming? If we speak about volunteering most of us still think of Africa, social volunteering, animal shelters etc.?

- I do the volunteering so to say for myself in first line now. I am a quite helpful person in general and if I help someone I never count how much return I get on it. This trip I am starting with the intention that during the one year I will hopefully get the chance to learn everything what I am interested in this field, or at least gain some knowledge about it.
If got interested in organic farming, because this sums up many things which I appreciate: I like to eat well, I like to know what I am eating, I like animals, nature, I truly believe in the power of the communities and I feel that when I come back from my trip, I can share with others what I have learned.
Speaking about volunteering I really like the idea that while doing it you have to give first before gaining any return on it. Everyone should try it at least once, because it is a valuable experience, would be nice if it would be included also in the educational programs.

- What do you know about the background/history of this movement? Can it be called a movement at all?

- I have not studied all the theory beforehand, but I would like to read the main works in the field. For sure you can learn much from those about some important issues like: to which extent you should use machinery, what are the limits of growth of an organic farm, is it bad to buy GMO seeds and are there seeds which are not GMO at all nowadays? There is this classic dilemma that if potato insects invade the crop just before harvesting should you just stand and watch or are you allowed to use some less aggressive stuff then to kill those? The answers are often contradictory though, so everyone has to make the decision himself at the end.
My answer for the second part of the question is yes. One example for this is that I had to face that some of the wwoffing ( places are so full that there is hardly any free places for volunteers. I even saw a report about big-city people who "move" to the countryside to choose the bio-eco-ezo-spiritual lifestyle on a commercial TV-channel lately, which shows that the topic is not so underground any more at all.

Organic farms- ideology and functioning

- How profit-oriented is an organic farm?

- Well...most of us want to make a living in this life and I would also like to provide normal living conditions for my future children, being able to pay their tuition fee if they want to study etc.
Many people think that if you do well what you are doing, you will always earn enough money from it to keep up. The main thing here too is to know where the limit is between enough income and chasing the money. Th goal should be to find a balanced and sustainable way of living in today's society instead of escaping from it totally. 
- If you are going to have your own farm, do you plan to use the economic/business knowledge gained at the Corvinus University?

- At the university you gain lot of factual knowledge what you also forget if you do not use it for a while. Although I am sure there has been useful things I can use when I start a farm: I know how to write a business plan, or we learned about project management and how to write EU-project applications.
The most valuable assets I accumulated during the university times are the people who I got to know though. Many of them are good specialists at their field now and whenever I will have questions I can turn to them, because we are good friends with them and keep together. 

- Who are the customers of the organic farms?

- You have to differentiate between random and real customers. Random customers are people who buy organic products every here and then by accident, or because they are in that mood on a certain day. It becomes more and more fashionable to look for the organic label products.
The real customers are the ones who try to be conscious customers, go and buy from local producers and from bio markets, spend time and energy on searching for real organic products and producers. 
The stereotype is that these products are more expensive, which is partly true. It is much more expensive for sure, because if you buy from a fancy bio shop in the city center the price level is for sure higher, but if you buy from local producers and from bio markets then it is somewhat more expensive, but the difference is not so big.

- Is the organic farm a counter answer for the urban lifestyle?

- Its growing popularity might indicate that this is the case. I like to use the example of having pets. In my opinion the real desire behind having pets is that it makes people feel closer to nature. If you have a dog then you have to get closer to nature even physically, because you have to take it for a walk every day and thanks to it you have to do some outdoor activities every day.
Human beings adjust easily to everything, especially to those circumstances which has been created by humans themselves, but we feel constantly that we are a part of nature. I think many people dare to do the jump with the organic farming for this reason.

- To which extent are they using high technology in organic farms?

- For sure they are using high technological solutions at many farms. So far I am not against this idea, but lets see how it looks in the reality. According to my vision the aim of organic farming is not getting back to ancient times and dig around in the soil with a stick, more to use the already existing technologies to reach a sustainable level of production. I would like to have a windmill, solar panels at my own organic farm and surely I will set up a Facebook-page for it.

To be Continued...

This interview is an intellectual property of Éva Jócsák and Mónika Csapó. All Rights Reserved, for any commercial use please  contact  us.

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