By Vladimir Semenov
Staff from the Soligorsk District Executive Committee tell me, “Oleg Kravets is joining his father in growing apples: a useful product which is always in demand. We’re doing our best to assist them in their worthy undertaking.”
Mr. Kravets now heads Pruzhansky Sad (Pruzhany Orchard) farm and tells us, “Really, many Belarusians grow apples but it’s hard to find them in our stores in late autumn and, especially, in winter. Rather, Polish or Dutch apples are offered, as ours are largely only suitable for processing.”
The young businessman decided to address this, receiving 60 hectares of land near the village of Pruzhanka in spring 2011. Although Oleg was born in Soligorsk and has worked in various agricultural spheres for many years, he has always sold others’ products in the past and, approaching the age of 40, yearned to be his own master. His ambition is to be able to sell our apples all year round. Certainly, Belarus’ climatic conditions are the equal of those in Poland and it’s possible to harvest 65-80 tonnes of good quality apples per hectare.
Oleg has mostly planted corn, potatoes and Chinese radishes and, although he lacked machinery and experience initially, his harvests met the average for the region. However, his apple orchard is central, occupying six hectares. The fruits are almost ready for harvesting. By the end of the year, their volume should double, eventually reaching 15 hectares. Meanwhile, 20,000 seedlings are being grown in the transplant nursery, comprising fifteen high-quality Belarusian, Dutch and American varieties. The winter varieties ‘antonovka’ and ‘white sap’ are among the favourites, also being grown by local villagers.
Oleg’s father, Valery, is assisting his son, having previously headed one of Soligorsk’s major factories. His dream had also been to run an apple orchard, musing, “Trees, birds and fresh air… What else could you wish for? Farming always involves growing something new.”
Valery continues working hard and his passion for nature has inspired Oleg, who graduated from the Polytechnic University as a mechanical engineer. Oleg made contacts with agronomists and began his independent study. His knowledge is now perfect, so he can easily rival the professionals. Father and son are often found at opposite corners of their large plot, supervising the seasonal workers. The farm has brought new life to the village and the chance to earn a decent wage.
“Prushinsky mansion was once situated near this tall lime tree. After cutting down the old bushes, you can now rest in the shade of the trees,” Oleg tells us. “We’ve also cleaned and significantly deepened the overgrown pond, leaving an avenue of trees. We may later open a fish farm, offering fishing licenses, and may launch an agro-mansion.”
Clearly, the land is becoming more rich and beautiful under its true host!