CEREMOŠNJA – In the hamlet of Plavčevo, in the Braničevo Region (central Serbia), near the caves of Ceremošnja and Ravništarka, the seven-member Milošević family live the dream of most farmers in the former Yugoslavia. On a small part of their 50-hectare holding, they cultivate organic food: peppers, tomatoes, string beans, beans, onions, cucumbers and much else in the clean and untouched nature.
Without pesticides and herbicides, the Milošević family produce food for which the newly ecologically minded city dwellers would give their last dinar. The additional charm of the matter is that all the family members contribute equally to the production of healthy food. Beginning with grandmother Ljubica, who is 86, her son Radovan and his wife Bosanka, grandson Goran and wife Violeta, and great-grandsons Nikola and Saša (still in school), to Ljubica’s daughter Radmila, who lives in Kučevo, but frequently comes to the parental home to see her mother and help her brother and daughter-in-law with the agricultural business. She also brings her grandson Darko, for the boy to learn all the secrets of land cultivation.
Daugher-in Law ‘Guilty’ of the Family’s Success
The calloused palms of the Milošević family show traces of the struggle with the land, wind, rain snow, the sun... Nevetheless, their eyes sparkle as they begin talking about agriculture and their Plavčevo, which has no industry anywhere within a 60-kilometre radius.
”We have 50 hecrates of land, but only a small part of it is cultivated - the rest is woodland and meadows” says Radovan Milošević, 63, the oldest man in the household. “I am a blacksmith by profession, but times are changing and my profession is dying out”.
“I have opened a sawmill, we have some livestock, but twenty years ago at the urging of daughter-in-law Violeta we began producing organic food. When you live in a rural area, by implication you will be involved in agriculture and livestock breeding. The work is hard, every morning I look up at the sky, because it depends on the weather whether it will be a good year, but I am satisfied. The family is together in one place, together we cultivate the ground and welcome crops”.
From a Policeman’s Uniform to Country Garb
Radovan’s son Goran is a policeman. He works in Kučevo, but spends his free time helping his grandmother, father, wife Violeta and sons on the family’s farm.
”Some have asked me whether I am ashamed to be involved in agriculture,” Goran says with a smile. “What is there to be ashamed of? I have land, I know how to cultivate it, I have never taken anything from anybody else... Every plant that comes from our garden is absolutely natural. Every plant springs from our seed, we have never bought seed anywhere. I am happy and proud because my children eat healthy food, from vegetables, our own cheese, meat, bread baked by my wife... At work I am an honourable policeman, at home I am an honourable farmer!”
The Children Want to Stay
With unconcealed happiness Goran says sons Nikola and Saša have decided to go to an agricultural chool. He says additional knowledge will only help them to perfect that they already have. He says if they want to go to university, he would support them.
Although they live ‘far from civilisation,’ in the hamlet of Plavčevo which does not even have a shop of any kind, Nikola and Saša have all the knowledge and interests of their peers. They have a lap-top computer, they like to surf the Internet, to learn foreign languages, read books... They are cultured lads, and, especially importantly for their parents, they have good grades in school.
Nikola and Saša says it is not difficult for them to help their parents, their grandfather and grandmother in the production of organic food; they know it is a hit throughout the world, and hope that soon organic food will reach in Serbia the price is deserves. Asked if they would prefer to leave Plavčevo and find jobsin Požarevac or Jagodina, the regional centres, the youngest members of the Milošević family shake their heads:
”No! It’s fine here in Plavčevo for us. The nature is beautiful, the air is clean, and we have everything we need”.
Buyers Happy to Pay Premium Prices
The products of the Milošević family are the first to sell at the Eco – Food market – the Heart of Homolje organised from time to time in Kučevo and Požarevac. In spite of the quality of the vegetables, the prices are not European.
”A kilo of organisec string beans costs 200 dinars, and we sell beans for 400 dinars. Our best customers are the local Roma who live in Austria. When they hear that a Eco – market will be organised, they come and buy up to 200 kilogrammes of beans”!
”When I ask them why they need so much, they tell me they take it to Austria and re-sell it to their friends at much highesr prices. In Europe they know how to value organically produced food, and are not reluctant to pay top price,” says Radovan.
The Milošević family has a message for all people who have lost their jobs, and have at least 10 ares of land:
”String beans and beans are the most profitable, and do not demand much trouble. Every year we have about 2,500 sticks of string beans on 15 ares, yields are excellent, and earnings are good. Unfortunately, the problem is the certificate, which costs 7,000 euros. But for a start you can produce like we do - customers will recognise the difference between organiscally cultivated vegetables and those treated with chemicals. Use the clean air, the fertile land, and the good climate, eat healthy food and do not panic if you’ve lost your job. Nature is always there to land a hand!
Source: House of Good News
Photo: Ivan Derikonjić