About twenty men and women are digging up beetroot. That is too early, because most of the roots are not yet fully grown. But they have to. Farmer Halyna needs money to pay for a new delivery of fertilizer. So the workers choose the largest ones to sell at the market this weekend. With the proceeds, the cabbages and tomatoes can be fertilized.
“Look, these are your potatoes.” Halyna points to 5 hectares of Dutch seed potatoes. “We are curious to see what they will look and taste like. We have experience with many different varieties, but are not familiar with this one yet. They are large shrubs, I notice. We are very grateful.”
Halyna’s farm has been ravaged by the war. For a year her business, in a village near the southern city of Mykolaiv, was under fire. The farmer shows photos of her storage shed, which was built just a year before the war and completely burned down after a bombardment in April last year — including the cold stores. “It’s a miracle no one was killed. Twenty people were working at the time.” The cabbage and potato harvest stored in the shed was lost. “We had planned twenty hectares of potatoes this year, but all the seed potatoes had burned. Thanks to you, we can still grow potatoes.”
“We had planned twenty hectares of potatoes this year, but all the seed potatoes had burned. Thanks to you, we can still grow potatoes.”
Now that the front is much further south, Halyna thought the worst was over. She brought her six children — five girls and a boy, who spent nine months in the safe western Ukraine — back home. She had the water supply repaired. The extensive network of canals one meter wide, built in Soviet times with concrete slabs, was pierced with shrapnel. The “three kilometers of holes”, according to Halyna, could not be closed. So the farmer’s wife bought a water pump that transports the water from the nearby canal through plastic pipes to her fields: an expensive option, but the only one. “This region is fertile, but also very hot in the summer. There is no rain. We need water.”
In June, Halyna was struck by another disaster. The Kakhovka dam was destroyed. This not only flooded the Dnipro River, but also caused side rivers to overflow — such as the nearby Inhul. “The water was this high,” says Halyna, holding her arm at shoulder height. The carrots she grew thanks to the Worldpartners seed project, were close to the river and flooded. “It was too painful to watch,” said the farmer. The water was polluted, she fears: even wild grass no longer grows on the flooded field. “When the shooting was finally over, the flood came too.”
In the long term, Halyna fears a water shortage. Because the reservoir has disappeared, many channels in southern Ukraine are dry. Because she has six children, the farmer’s wife would have the right to move abroad with her husband. She doesn’t even consider it. “We built this company by ourselves. We love our home. We can’t just leave all this behind.” She has twenty workers, which means that she supports twenty families in the region with her farm.
“At the age of six he was already driving the tractor. He couldn’t reach the pedals with his legs, but he knew how to do it”
Still, Halyna is hopeful. Her 15-year-old son works full-time on the farm. “At the age of six he was already driving the tractor. He couldn’t reach the pedals with his legs, but he knew how to do it,” laughs the farmer. “Our hope is in God. He gives us strength. We keep hoping and keep working.
About Aid2villages 2
60 farmers received 2,4 ton of seeds. This consisted of 2 ton seed potatoes, 0,4 ton seed onions and a large amount of vegetables seeds like beetroots and carrots. Farmer received the seeds with open arms and took the opportunity to try new crops.
20.000 families received 10 kg seed potatoes,
10 kg consumption potatoes, 1,7 kg seed onions and a smaller amount of vegetable seeds.