No – not some lovely green wish list – official Russian statistics from 1999 when ‘more than 35 million families (105 million people, or 71% of country’s population) owned a dacha or a subsidiary plot and were cultivating it… The 35 million plots of these families occupy more than 8 million hectares and provide 92% of Russia’s harvest of potatoes, 77% of its vegetables, 87% of berries and fruits, 59.4% of meat, and 49.2% of milk….’
Typical Russian ‘home garden’ courtesy of Bovine and ‘Uncommon Vistas’ 0n Flickr
And that was in 1999 – since then the figures have just gone up. ‘In 2004, gardeners’ output amounted to 51% (by value) of the total agricultural output of the Russian Federation. This represents 384 billion rubles (approx. US$14 billion!!!), or 2.3% of Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)………The share of food gardening in national agriculture has increased from 32% in 1992 to over 50% by 2000.’
Despite the fact that all farm land was in state ownership from 1917 until 1990, small household plots, cultivated by rural communities, have existed since the 1930s, and have proved to be hugely productive – encouraged over the last 10–15 years by a 40-year-old peasant woman from Siberia and a Russian entrepreneur who has published nine books setting out her rural idyll….
Does that give the eco-farming community hope? And if so, why do we not know more about it?