“Good Farmer‘s Championship“ was organized for the first time in Lithuania in 2021 by LIFE integrated project “Naturalit“ partners. The example was taken from Irish initiative “Farming for Nature” and the main aim of the championship was to promote an attitude that a good farmer our days is the one, who produces healthy products in environmentally-friendly way, protecting biodiversity and sharing his experience with the others.
“By showing the good examples of farming we want to demonstrate that environmentally-friendly farming can be very progressive in economic, social and ecological way”, – tells Zymantas Morkvenas, one of the initiators of the “Good Farmer‘s Championship“.
The championship had two parts – competition of farmers and of elderships.
The society, local community members and associations were invited to propose farmers’ candidacies to the organizers. After the deadline, all the candidates were evaluated and the best 13 farmers visited by a special commission of the championship, formed by experts of agriculture and nature conservation (commission consisted of representatives from “Naturalit” project partners: Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Agriculture, Environmental Projects management Agency, National Paying Agency and some other experts, coordinated by NGO Baltic Environmental Forum). Five best farms were selected and proclaimed ambassadors of the “Good Farmer‘s Championship“. The last stage of the competition was a public vote for “Public favourite” nomination. Society could get acquainted with each of the ambassadors’ farm by watching a movie and reading interview, also there were radio broadcasts made in Lithuanian Public radio, where all the farms were presented. Voting lasted for a whole month and the winner was announced during the Award Ceremony. Representatives of the Presidency of the Republic of Lithuania and the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment were taking part and greeting the winners in the Award Ceremony.
The winner became Nerijus and Agne Sukackai family, who has a cattle breeding farm and takes care of the natural meadows, which belong to the protected area and Natura 2000 territory. Nerijus’ livestock is grazing freely in meadows fostering their biodiversity. “Sense of duty naturally comes, when I realize that we are only borrowing from nature, nothing belongs to us here. So, if we don‘t behave properly, this loan will get higher at the expense of future generations. But we want to leave to the future generations better conditions that we found“, – says Nerijus Sukackas.
Other four “Good Farmer‘s Championship“ were:
Niels Peters Pretzmann and his organic farm “Farmers Circle”, covering 700 hectares of the land. There are grown cattle, chicken, hens, grains and various vegetables. Farmers Circle is not only growing vegetables, but also processing them at the same place, avoiding transportation, storage and shortening food chain in such way. “Natural step in the farm was to stop plowing, because plowing is the part of global warming story. We release huge amounts of greenhouse gas by plowing and destroy a microlife which is the secret of growing healthy products”, says founder of the farm Niels Peters Pretzmann.
Jadvyga Balvociute and her organic herb farm „Jadvygos žolės“. Jadvyga is a pharmacist who specializes to medicinal properties of plants for many years. Jadvyga‘s grown herbs are totally clean from any chemicals and pesticides, she also takes care of natural meadow in her land. People come to Jadvyga searching for help from all over Lithuania. “My dream was to restore natural meadow in my father’s land, where protected endangered plants were growing. I succeeded and the meadow is recovering”, says Jadvyga Balvociute.
Valdas Kavaliauskas and Rasa Ilinauskaite cheesmaking farm “Following sun and goats”. After beeing a tipical townspeople, they decided to change their lifestyle totally. They moved to a countryside in 2007, where started to keep goats and to make cheese. Couple has twenty hectares of the land and eight of them are natural meadows, where around one hundred goats are grazing freely. “We have possibility to work with live milk and in this way we transfer to our cheese all richness that we get from grasslands. This could never be done in the industrial production“, says Valdas Kavaliauskas.
Vladas and Laima Chockeviciai organic farm “KasMes”. A couple met in London, but then decided to settle in the Lithuanian village and to establish organic farm where they grow ryes and other grains, keep goats and make cheese. “I am guided by the idea that it is more important to take care of the soil rather than the plant itself”, – says Vladas Chockevicius. Family tells, that they sell not only ecologic products, but the idea that it is possible to live in different way – i.e. in harmony with nature and oneself.
The elderships which are the most active in declaring fields for agri-environmental measures were also honored in the Award Ceremony. The champion was declared the eldership where the biggest part of the territory in percentages was declared for agri-environmental measures. Another two were honored for reaching the biggest progress during the year 2021. The main aim of the eldership competition was to involve elderships into the process of talking with local farmers and motivating them to participate in governmental program for nature protection in the countryside.
“Good Farmer‘s Championship“ is going to be continued next year. LIFE integrated project “Naturalit“ involves 11 partners and is administered by Environmental Projects Managements Agency in Lithuania.
You can find a photo galery from the Award Ceremony below. Mika Saviciute photos: