As under the deep former teachers grow buckwheat

Vasily and Svetlana Senkovets - owners of “Richev” farm in Hlybokaje district - without pesticides and all that “chemistry” they are grown green buckwheat. Moreover, that buckwheat is not a simple green. The same one that is considered to be the most useful and that love by people fascinated about superfoods. Looking at Vasily and Svetlana, hardly believe that just recently they lived in Viciebsk and taught music. And then abruptly changed their lives: moved to the village and engaged in organic farming. Today, ex-teachers look like real farmers know about buckwheat and other crops not less than agriculturist does. Play music now, of course, it turns out rarely, but Senkovets proved that green buckwheat grows well even in the Viciebsk region. TUT.BY looked like on the sidelines in the cold region of Belarus harvested the crop.

From teachers to farmers

Vasily Senkovets was born in the Hlybokaje, and Svetlana - in Viciebsk. In both musical and pedagogical education, head of the family - and even a diploma psychologist. For their mid 30-ties wife and husband tried themselves in various fields. Initially they worked in the specialty - teach children music, and later worked in the trade.

There are live in Hlybokaje, in Viciebsk, where the family built an apartment. The pair have three children: Katya - 11 years, Elisei - a first grader, and the youngest, Glykeria - 3 years.

But 4 years ago, the head of the family decided to move to the hinterland and to work the land. The wife had no choice but to follow her husband. By the way, before her marriage, she was going to enter the conservatory in St. Petersburg, and teachers saw it as a musical talent.

- But I met Vasya - and decided not to go, - a young woman smiled. - And when my husband decided to set up in the village something of their own, I decided to support him. After all, he always liked the rural work. To me it was not easy at first in the village, but involved smoothly. The main thing in our work - good planning, and then everything turns out.

Svetlana’s husband did not hide the fact that he is proud of his wife:

- Sveta is doing great, although it is difficult given so far. Maintain rural business - and in fact we started from scratch - very difficult. According to the finance we still modest, frugal living. A lack of stability to endure hard, especially women.

Nevertheless, the former music teacher for a couple of years it has become a great manager and agronomist. Senkovts familu have to rely only on themselfs: “Richev” farm have just two employees - is they are.

Started with the cucumbers, passed on buckwheat

Four years ago Senkovets started with cucumber greenhouses. Vasily had built it on his father's plot deeply. For a time they lived as nomads: in Viciebsk, here, near the new economy.

- At first we did not know anything about gardening, - Svetlana says. - My mother is originally from Palesse, with Turayschyna Homel’ region. And there near Al’shany - famous cucumber edge. And one friend, in whose greenhouses in Turay, advised us how to grow cucumbers. We put them - and then it began! Then the drug should be sprayed against pests and diseases, then this, then this is still here... I read on the Internet that these means are. And there the first class of danger! We must work in a greenhouse, chemical protection, a mask. Call to Turay: “Do you observe all these rules?” - “Oh, we have no one on it does not bother, normal cucumbers grow with these drugs, do not be afraid.”

Yet Senkovets “afraid”. They read a lot of literature. And they found an alternative to toxic chemicals - organic farming.

- The drug is in the greenhouse, we have ceased to apply in the first year. As there are cucumber, stuffed with “chemistry”? And, moreover, how to give it to the children? And, thank God, everything grow well without pesticides. The harvest was even recoup the costs. And in the next season we have purposefully engaged in ecological agriculture. The process is interesting, creative, - says Svetlana Senkovets.

In particular, in the beds in a greenhouse steel used mulch hay, sawdust and second organics.

Later, the couple created the farm called “Richev” rented land. They bought a house in the village Lastavichy 5 km from Hlybokaje. And all said goodbye to city life.

Initially the farm was small - 5 hectares of land. Now - almost 70.

- Of these, about 40 ha of green buckwheat. Another 20 - woods and bushes. And in a small area we planted wheat, peas, oats - to feed domestic animals. Keeping chickens, ducks.

Фото: Игорь Матвеев, TUT.BYIn “Richev” they are grow buckwheat “Kupava” of domestic varieties. Buy seeds in Belarus. “The specifics of buckwheat in that it ties the seeds up to the frost. And the field is as follows: the lower part of the stem has brown, dry, but some plants are still blooming. And the harvest is necessary to choose the moment of total maturity. It usually happens in the first decade of September.”

“It is a myth that buckwheat does not grow in the Viciebsk region”

- So why did you decide to take a chance with buckwheat? They say that it is practically not grown in the north of Belarus: allegedly this culture is afraid of the cold.

- We “stopped” on buckwheat for several reasons. This culture is unpretentious, “crushes” weeds. Therefore, it is good for the transitional period, until the soil “killed” by pesticides, which the collective farm used earlier, is restored. And buckwheat quickly gives a financial return, the spouses explain.

Svetlana says that buckwheat grows normally in the climatic conditions of the Viciebsk region:

- The old men said that before they used to plant buckwheat here, in Hlybokaje, and in the neighboring Pastavy. But in Soviet times, the collective farms for some reason decided that this was a thermophilic culture. In fact, it is not so much heat-loving as it is afraid of frost. The main thing here is to observe the sowing time: this is the last decade of May / the beginning of June. But, of course, if the frosts will descend in June, then buckwheat will not be saved anywhere: neither in the Homel’ region, nor in the Viciebsk region. We did not risk it and sowed buckwheat on May 30 for two years in a row. And this year there was no return frost, it was possible to plant it earlier.

For the first time, farmers sowed 30 hectares of buckwheat. Collected from them 30 tons. Luck inspired, and this year the valuable food crop has already occupied almost 40 hectares. In September, the harvest began. Harvesting is not over yet, but according to preliminary estimates, the harvest should again please:

- The year for buckwheat was a good one. Although at the beginning of June there was no rain, and it rose tightly. Wheat grass has already grown in places, and buckwheat has just started to make its way. Vasya and I were shocked: what will it be? But then it started to rain, and buckwheat — and it’s an aggressive culture — scored this wheat grass.

“Depending on the collective farm equipment”

The main problem for farmers now is not the weather surprises, but the lack of their own equipment for field work. In the spring, and in the fall, the combine has to be rented from the neighboring collective farms.

Фото: Игорь Матвеев, TUT.BYBuckwheat field removes huge combine New Holland

- And you are always on the nerves: they will give you the technique - they will not, the engine will broke - it will not broke... And then there is just a good dry weather, and you need to quickly harvest everything. Then - take buckwheat to the dryer. Then there is still the processing of grain, - Vasily lists the efforts.

Last year, the grain for processing was taken by Senkovets to a plant in the Hrodna region. There, the seeds are freed from brown husks, and light green groats are obtained.

But this season, farmers are hoping that they can do the processing themselves. Svetlana (who two years ago had no idea what buckwheat looks like - not the one in the porridge, but the one in the field) studied in the School of Rural Business and won the EU grant of 9 thousand euros. With this money, the family decided to buy equipment for processing buckwheat grain into green buckwheat groats.

- I ordered the equipment in Russia and Ukraine. In November/December, two units must come to us: a separator to clean the grain and a machine that removes the husk from it. Due to this, processing costs will go away, logistic costs will decrease. And most importantly, we will be able to control the process of turning grain into grits ourselves, - Svetlana rejoices.

“We want to receive a certificate of eco-farm”

Around the buckwheat fields of “Richev” - landscapes, which are truly ask to be painted on canvas. Around the forest, hills, picturesque lake Lastavickaje.

“It's just a perfect place for ecological cultivation of crops,” the pair said.

In 2019, farmers expect to receive a certificate of farming, which specializes in organic farming. Then they will get the right to apply eco-labeling on products and export green buckwheat to Europe.

Фото: Игорь Матвеев, TUT.BY

For two seasons in a row, land, products, and in general, Richev’s work is checked by a special commission. It includes experts from STC from Latvia, as well as specialists from Belarus.

- Our lands are far from the city, from the roads. Near the lake, and in the water protection zone can not apply chemicals. The forest separates us from other fields, collective farms where fertilizers are applied, - says Svetlana. - This year, the commission took from us samples of buckwheat of the last harvest. And after checking, we were told: “According to all analyzes, everything is fine. Congratulations!” So we hope that we will receive a certificate of organic farming.

“Green buckwheat can not be cheaper than brown”

Green buckwheat from Senkovets can be bought in the network of hypermarkets “Green” under the brand “Mestnoje izvestnoje”. Packaging weighing 800 grams costs 4.16 belarussian rubles.

- But it is still cheaper than green buckwheat from Russia, Poland, etc. So far, at least, - says Vasily Senkovets.

At first glance, green buckwheat looks like immature cereal. But this is not so: the grain is fully ripe, and a lot of work has been done on it. A farmer explains how their product differs from the usual buckwheat, from which we cook porridge:

- Brown buckwheat is dried at a higher temperature. And almost all the nutrients are destroyed. As a result, such buckwheat does not germinate. And for drying green one needs a much lower temperature and more time. In fact, it is only cleared of husk. Such cereals can be germinated, added to yogurt, cook porridge from it, salads, sweets with honey.

Фото: Игорь Матвеев, TUT.BYThe grain that the combine dumps into the truck. To get high-quality green buckwheat, there is still a lot of work ahead: drying, processing, peeling

The cost of green buckwheat, in particular, is influenced by the following reasons:

- A lot more diesel fuel is spent on its drying. In addition, green buckwheat is softer, and when it is processed, about 50% of the grain is ground, chipped, that is, half goes to waste. A steamed loss accounts for 20%. Plus - labor costs for environmental production.

Therefore, organic products can not be cheaper than “chemical ones”, the farmer insures.

Senkovets family admit that the business of buckwheat is “very nervous work”: "The risk is here at every step. It is important not to lose time with the sowing date. Then you worry: will rise - will not rise? Then: will grow - will not grow? Then you think: how to remove? Give the combine and dryer - will not they? And so that only the equipment does not break anything... In general, almost every day you risk losing everything.”

Nevertheless, young entrepreneurs believe in themselves and are confident that ecoproducts grown on small family farms have a future. So, they have occupied their niche.