Magdaléna Grambličková is a mother of the two and former financial director who as she left the city turned into a flower farmer. Can she be our future? Today we chat about sustainability, neighbors, career change and climate crisis out in the fields.
Interview: Milota Sidorová, Lucia Ďurčová, edits: Micheal Higgs
What was behind your decision to move out to the village?
Garden was my main motivation. Even at times I didn‘t know I would ever be a farmer I wanted to have a sufficient space for producing my own food. I wanted to be at home even after I closed the doors. Currently, there are not many ecological technologies ready for flats, so house has many advantages. We heat with wood, isolation was done with natural materials and we recycle trash water in the natural root cleaner. Low housing prices were of course another factor, although this has been changing recently.
Is country life more sustainable than the urban?
I’d rather say, it has (unfullfiled) potential to be more sustainable. Well managed countryside has the ability do meet energy demands from the local sources. Examples from Austria tell us so as well as our own analysis that we have the potential to do so. In the countryside people have bigger possibilities for food production and local shopping – but they use it very little.
However, ecological awareness is stronger in cities and this is where you are more successful with themes like: local sources consumption, emissions reduction, ecological agriculture, etc.
How do you see the future of sharing in the countryside?
I think we have enough of infrastructure for communal activites and sharing, but we lack the will to organize them (I think of myself too). I can imagine sharing construction and technical equipment and supporting sharing in more systemic ways. I really like concepts of ownership of local energy companies via cooperatives and crowdfunding we see in many Western countries. We have a long way to open ourselves towards this type of ownership.
Shared ownership would help the farmers
How does the climate change appear in the countryside? How do you prepare yourself for more sustainable living in the future?
As a farmer the climate change is my daily reality. The water is the issue. We have either too little or too much of it at once. In countryside we experience two catastrophes I consider the most alarming: climate change and land devastation due to insensitive agriculture. The weather is also less predictable. Classical wisdom about when to plant and harvest is less reliable. I begin to plant much earlier, in mid-March, otherwise most of my plats would burn in May heatwaves.
As a former city person you became a farmer. What have you learnt? What skills or support would you need to pursue more sustainable business?
The transition was a very positive move in my life as I was aware that this is exactly what I wanted to do. Transition to farming was also a continuous activity that began with having a child and being at home. I produce local wild flowers and I was very lucky to learn from a group of foreign flower farmers who were willing to share their know-how. I joined a facebook group of Czech-Slovak flower farmers and this is also a great help for me. As for farming itself I am missing support for communal product sales, common product warehouses, shops, etc.
How important are your neighbors for you?
When you live at the end of the world like we do, we need our neighbors very often. And so they do us. From receiving the post mail, borrowing the equipment, airing the glasshouse, when we are not at home down to all these little things of daily life. I think it depends on how people communicate and I am happy we were lucky to find good neighbors.
What do you fear in the future for our society?
Environmental problems for sure! Instead of solving them we are deepening the gap for the future. Climate change and biodiversity loss are not only about nature, they already have serious consequences for society. They will be escalating in the future.
Thank you for the interview!
Magdaléna Grambličková was born in Nitra, Slovakia. She studied social work and roma studies, later on she worked as a financial director of Priatelia Zeme Slovensko. Later she moved to countryside in the northern part of Slovakia called Lazy - Veľká Dolina, where she decided to stay and start her own business - flower farming - Zeliny z Doliny.