Apples from wonderful garden

Farming experiences in the Republic testify to the fact that this sector is currently displaying dynamic development, yet its share in agrarian production continues to be insignificant. At the same time, examples of successful farms with an efficient economic approach and love of one’s endeavour convincingly show that farming can be efficient and profitable.
By Marina Borodavko

Being asked whether farms have a future, Victor Ashurkevich, from the Minsk Region’s Volozhin District, answers without hesitation. ‘Yes’. Seven years ago, together with his friend and partner, Boris Adamovich, he founded a farm. At first, they were engaged in growing vegetables, but simultaneously started to develop a new area — gardening (their wish for many years). In this way, their hobby grew into a professional occupation and is now the core of the farm with the romantic title — Divny Sad (Wonderful Garden).

At present, the farm occupies 55 hectares, and includes a young garden and some vegetable plots, primarily green manure crops. A breeding nursery has been laid down while the farm was registered into the state register of manufacturers of planting material of fruit and berry crops. The garden is really wonderful, and specialists note that this is an example of technology. Others simply enjoy the well-cared-for planting and low-rise trees with their wonderful, full-flavoured fruits.

The farmland offers a wide range of crops: apples, pears, cherries, sweet cherries, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Most of the produce are fruits, berries and drupaceous which grow in our country, alongside a number of southern guests. Moreover, various varieties presuppose various technologies.

“Presently, the garden is young and is only just entering the active fruit bearing stage, with many trees bringing their first crops this year. We don’t plan to expand so far. Our major dream is to raise this garden, to stand more firmly on our feet, to get the maximum from this territory and then to think about further development,” the head of the farm, Victor Ashurkevich, tells us. “Growth is evident. Last year, we sold 9,000 seedlings and 52 tonnes of fruit and berries, compared with this year’s 20,000 and 70 tonnes correspondingly.”

The farmers don’t feel ashamed of the quality of their produce, which sells well in the market. “Today, people take more care about their health, and they understand that it’s better to buy Belarus-produced fruit and vegetables. People from Minsk and other cities often come to us. It’s probably cheaper to go to a hypermarket than to spend money on fuel; however consumers still come to us. People especially enjoy the opportunity to collect fruit and berries themselves. It is fun, and also recreational. For example, this year, we didn’t harvest any cherries, except for our own consumption,” adds Victor.

The farm delivers its vitamin packed produce to kindergartens, schools, boarding schools, clinics and a range of Minsk shops. This autumn, their goods are also available at trade fairs in Minsk.

The farm is also remarkable for its position on labour mechanisation. Boris Adamovich is responsible for this. Although he isn’t an engineer by profession, is an engineer in his heart in this particular business. The ‘Less Manual Labour — More Technique’ slogan is actively brought to life at this enterprise. The latest innovations include a device for processing strawberries which replaces the labour of two dozen people.

Over seven years, the farmers have managed to find their way in business. They also received state support: a power line which was run to the farm using funds from the republican budget, and assistance for the enterprise’s technical modernisation. Four tractors have been purchased with long-term lease agreements.

According to Mr. Ashurkevich, the mission of the farmers is to supplement and diversify the range of goods and services while also making life in rural areas brighter, thus reducing the outflow of people from villages — a wonderful and promising idea.
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