GB No. 4, spring 1991
After 8 years of informal promotion of alternative methods of farming, the Association of Ecological Food Producers EKOLAND was officially registered in Poland on 1 Sept. 1989.
The seat of the Association is at one of the regional Centers for Agricultural Development, in the village Przysiek near Toruń (the town where Nicolaus Copernicus was born).
EKOLAND was created by over one hundred private farmers, participants in national courses on ecological and biodynamic agriculture held in 1984-5 and 1987-9. Continuing this tradition, EKOLAND organized another course in January 1990, for the first time dealing with animal production.
EKOLAND is governed by the Board of Producers, consisting of 9 members, with Mieczysław Babalski as President, and by the Ecological Council, consisting of 5 members, headed by prof. Mieczysław Górny.
The Ecological Council is in charge of elaborating the standards of ecological agriculture in Poland.
As soon as the standards are completed, which is expected in the nearest future, EKOLAND will begin the certification process.
Since there are dozen of alreadyconverted farms in Poland, one may expect certified foodstuffs by the end of the 1990 agricultural season.
Why "ecological" and not "organic" farming in the Polish language? Both terms express the same idea, but the word "organic" is used in Poland in the narrow sense of former methods of farming, that practically no longer exist. To avoid misunderstanding and to emphasize the new approach to agricultural biology, economy and sociology, the term "ecological agriculture" has been promoted in Poland.
EKOLAND started its activity by organizing further courses concerning ecological methods of farming - continuing in the tradition which created it. The first course (Jan. 4-6, 1990) concerned "Animal Husbandry in Organic Systems" and was long expected by the farmers who organized themselves in EKOLAND. It was also the great success of Dr. Jean-Claude Robert, the rector of International Ecological University in Quebec/Canada, who came to Poland to share his 25 -year experience in alternative agriculture.
On February 14-16, 1990, the EKOLAND farmers gathered once more to take a course on "Biodynamics and its Relations to Anthroposophy", held by Martin Ott from Switzerland (who two years earlier co-organized the stay of some Polish alternative farmers in his country). Apart from the main subject "ordered" by the EKOLAND members, wishing to get clear knowledge of what biodynamics really means, two other Swiss agriculturers, Eduard Peyer and Reto Ingold, presented the practical aspects of biodynamic farming. Over 100 participants who attended both courses appreciated them very much. The arrival of Ing. Richard Bartfk from Czekoslovakia, to the "Swiss" course, allowed us to create new ideas of cooperation in educational field.
The "old" ecological farmers united in EKOLAND decided to organize a practical course for beginners interested in ecological alternatives on March 27-28, 1990. The two-day course resulted in two dozen new EKOLAND members.
At the moment farmers practice both biological and biodynamic methods. One may expect the differentiation into various fields in the future.
Membership in EKOLAND is generally open to representatives of three links of organic food supply: farmers and growers, processors, and traders. Up to now only ecological farmers and growers are represented in the production of certified foodstuffs.
The several dozen farmers who have not applied any agricultural chemicals for at least 2 years receive the right to sell their produce within EKOLAND's body, responsible for its strategy and ethics.
The Ecological Council controls the newly completed first part of the Polish standards of ecological food production, part of which regards agricultural practices.
The appearance of certified food on the market should result in the real public birth of EKOLAND, and tempt farmers into our movement. It is worth mentioning, that according to statutes, only individuals, land owners, or those responsible for production may apply for membership to EKOLAND. Private estates use 75% of agricultural land in Poland, which is still exceptional in the ex-communistic countries of Eastern Europe. Many of these estates had always run extensive farming, as compared to Western standards. The new market prices for agricultural chemicals call in question the rentability of small farms (as is mostprivate agriculture in Poland), if they would conventionally farm. Thus one may expect the natural ecologisation of agriculture in Poland, a country suffering from acute economical recession. This complicated situation may be a chance for the certified farming system proposed by EKOLAND.
EKOLAND's logo will soon guarantee the quality of products and the credibility of producers.
Since February 1990, EKOLAND has been a full member of IFOAM - International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.
Dr. Urszula Sotłysiak
member of EKOLAND's Ecological Council
Przysiek k. Torunia
tel. 272-55, 262-20, 819-82