The idea of the ecological initiative “Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village” is to give villagers up-to-date knowledge about efficient and sustainable gardening, help them learn the necessary skills and breathe new life into the traditional occupation of villagers. The development of private household plots will contribute to the economic development of the regions as a whole.
In 2019-2020, the local development fund “Start-Vostok” is expanding the ecological initiative “Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village” in four districts of the Mogilev region: Bykhovsky, Cherikovsky, Slavgorodsky and Krasnopolsky. A regional network of local resource centers (hereinafter LRC) was created for teaching ecological gardening and entrepreneurship. It includes 8 educational institutions and the State Environmental Institution “Slavgorodsky”. The main functions of the local resource center are: environmental education of the local population (children and adults), teaching families the principles and technologies of ecological gardening and the formation of a resource base, including the organization of a nursery for garden crops.
At the LRC, 7 new nurseries of garden plants will be created on an area of 20 acres each. In addition, 3 existing nurseries will be expanded. The development of a network of resource centers will deepen interaction at the regional level and open up opportunities for diversification of the participants in the network “Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village”. Resource centers will be able to make a choice in favor of certain crops, berry, stone fruit, etc., depending on the needs and characteristics of each community and territory. The grown seedlings will become the basis for laying gardens on school grounds and in personal subsidiary plots of the local population.
The local development fund “Start-Vostok” as a regional resource center (hereinafter RRC) supports the “Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village” network, providing training for specialists from local resource centers. Since the beginning of the implementation of the ecological initiative, 20 representatives of the LRC and RRC have been participating in specialized trainings and have been improving their competencies in teaching the population to gardening, creating and efficiently managing nurseries. In October 2020, representatives of the LRC and RRC made a study visit to the Institute of Fruit Growing and the Grodno State Agrarian University to study the range of garden plants available in the Republic of Belarus and familiarize themselves with advanced gardening technologies.
As a result of the trainings, ten LRC and RRC development plans were prepared. Representatives of each LRC also develop a draft of their own educational program for the population, taking into account the interests and capabilities of local residents, as well as the characteristics of soil fertility.
The next stage will be practice-oriented training of rural residents and schoolchildren in modern ecological gardening on the basis of the LRC. The first set of the educational program for the population will have about 280 students, regardless of education level, income and social status. They will have to draw up projects for gardens on their sites based on the results of 8 thematic sessions. The best of them, about 80 private subsidiary farms, will receive seedlings from nurseries of resource centers. At least 10 hectares of empty land plots in rural settlements will be used for gardens. In the future, resource centers will continue to provide support to private gardeners — to conduct consultations, practical master classes.
The number of plots involved in horticulture will increase thanks to the support of the RRC and LRC and the formation of the regional cluster “Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village” for the successful promotion of the produced horticultural products in the local, regional and national markets.
The implementation of the environmental initiative is based on support and cooperation at three levels:
- The local level (village council) includes an educational institution, local non-profit organizations, the population, private business and local authorities that are interested in the development of the LRC to solve environmental problems and increase self-employment of the local population.
- The district level includes the LRC of one district, united by the Department of Education, Sports and Tourism of the corresponding district executive committee, with the aim of improving the quality of environmental education, adapting it to the needs and capabilities of the district, and also for developing new services, such as training for the adult population.
- The regional (interdistrict) level is represented by the RRC, which oversees the activities of the LRC in the districts for the implementation of a single program in the field of rural development.
The ecological initiative «Green Garden Economy for the Future of the Village» is supported by the Project “Civic Engagement in Environmental Monitoring and Improving Environmental Management at the Local Level”, funded by the European Union and implemented by the UN Development Program in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus.