Why Slovenia?

Last update: 10.08.11 First posted: 10.08.11 by in

Why Slovenia? What has this to do with IET?

Six months ago Natasha Bucar Draksler got in touch to see if Incredible Edible would like to be a partner in a Europe-wide bid to get funded exchange visits between local food growing projects.

She came to Tod and hatched a cunning plan, each participating group had to submit a separate bid; we recently heard that they were all were accepted. The projects are in the former East Germany, Ireland, France, Hungary, and of course IET and Natasha’s group in Slovenia.

Natasha will be the main co-ordinator for the project, although each member group/ country has autonomy on how the funding will be spent.

In September at Harvest Festival weekend, the managers from all the projects will convene in Todmorden to hammer out a master plan; meantime we decided to have a sneaky peak of Slovenia, and show what you might experience here should you chose to accept an offer of an exchange visit in the next 2 years.

Helena and I spend our summers on ‘camper van perambulations’ around Europe; Natasha and her Hubby Sasha’s kind invitation to park the Klampit van on their drive was snapped up!

The location, shall we call it base camp? is a beautiful wooded valley, 5 miles south of the capital, Ljubljana. The valley starts at Ig (pronouced EEK!) situated on an ancient, recently drained marsh, which is the location for extensive ancient settlements of houses on stilts.
Ig is a small town wth cafes and coffee, Wifi access and a statue re-creating a beautiful ancient clay pot found in the Ig bogs, depicting a woman with an embroidered dress. Ancient meets modern.

As we drive further up the valley we pass tiny strip fields of maize, clover, hay. The original hay racks vie for space with silage bales, and a spectacular wild bird population compete for my attention with wild flowers in the hay fields.

Natasha explains how the locals are both immensely proud but also ashamed of thier farming heritage. Farming is good for the soul but bad for the wallet, and modern life is about money. A very short time ago the land was all the people had, now there are other temptations.

We meet the Mayor, he listens, I show photographs from Todmorden, he kind of gets it, but kind of does not. He asks “why would he plant fruit trees around Ig when everyone has them at home?” We look out of the window at useless “ornamental” trees and wonder why he would plant them. The march of progress is toward an urban landscape we model in our towns, the council gardener mows noisiy next to the cafe and Natasha explains its called an “English lawn”, they are copying a gardening style invented by our petty aristocracy and the neuvo riche victorians to show off thier wealth and idleness. If thats being a role model now its my turn to be ashamed!
I want these people to be proud to be farmers, proud to own and care for land and to be guardians of a diverse healthy environment. Natasha tells us they are proud of thier old hay racks, they are right to be.

And beyond pride, its insurance, what if food becomes scarce, what if city jobs disapear, what if the price of oil doubles and fertiliser becomes un affordable, oops did those things just happen?

If they can be proud to be farmers then the smart ones might find good ways to improve farming practices instead of mindlessly following the lead of buisiness interests, buy a bigger tractor, buy insecticide and pour it onto the land, buy our cloned seed and plant monocultures in huge feilds, produce surplus and watch the price tumble, borrow some more money and buy an even bigger tractor.

It takes inteligence,creativity, honed skills to understand and care for a complex environment and the role agriculture has to play in it. These skills deserve recognition and in the UK we are beggining to give good farmers the accolades and the financial rewards they deserve, not so here, yet.

The Mayor of Ig and the Tourism officer look at IET photos, Natasha translates
Mayor of Eg and IET photos
Natasha and I at the statue depicting an ancient marsh dwellers piece
Eg statue
We drive past feild margins full of wild flowers
Natasha points out flowers
Hay racks with the alps behind
hay ricks

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