Dear BfR Friends and Supporters,
Our thoughts during this holiday season echo Ecology Action's year-end letter, which I'm copying to you below.
The year 2001 may be a transitional one for Biointensive for Russia. With a larger, improved home office and equipment base, we feel empowered to grow our efforts by recruiting and making better use of volunteers and paid staff. During much of the year we were diverted from BfR tasks by the need to supervise the expansion of our kitchen (involving moving its wall out three feet, and much more) and creation of a new computer alcove, and by all the ensuing redecorating work. We are currently still accomplishing the office move, from one ground-floor room to a larger one. Vladimir Loginov, our Biointensive partner from southern Russia, has been helping accomplish the finishing touches to the construction work (new floors, path to front door, etc.) with the assistance of super-handyman Victor Abbott. Our home and office have also benefited from new housemate Karey Amon's highly professional painting and wallpapering services.
Despite the distractions, we accomplished the following tours and hosting:
1. The "Art/Eco-Ag Tour" to Russia in January, our first time conducting ecotourists to the FSU to help support our workshops. Stephanie Tsuchida, Darina Drapkin and I led five artists to St. Petersburg and Moscow, visiting artists' homes, studios, and teaching environments as well as galleries and other sightseeing attractions. These artists are true masters of the academic realist school. One of the travelers dubbed the experience "the trip of a lifetime"! Despite the small numbers and low tour cost, the proceeds underwrote three days of Biointensive and ecodesign seminars hosted by Albina Kochegina of the Alive Earth Center (Young Naturalists program) in St. Petersburg. A 3-day seminar at the Russian Ministry of Agriculture's Educational Methods Center in Novo-Sin'kovo (near Moscow), hosted by Evgeny Shmelev and presented by Aleksandr Avrorin, was supported by an anonymous grant.
2. My three-week, self-funded jaunt Back East, traveling by bus, train, and plane to Morrilton, Arkansas for a Winrock volunteer gathering; Madison, Wisconsin for a John Jeavons workshop; and eight locations in between, including Washington and New York. I gave slide shows, visited family and colleagues, and recruited new supporters.
3. Irina Kim's visit here for three weeks in July, including a week participating in the Ecology Action Teacher Workshop in Willits. Interpretation was ably performed by Prof. Romouald Fessenko, who also helped with the HOW TO GROW ... translation in 1992-93. While in Palo Alto, Irina cooked for, and spoke at, our mini-fundraiser, "Green Tea in the Garden." She also wrote an ambitious grant proposal for five years of funding for a Mini-Ag Center for Central Asia, based in Chirchik, and paid a return visit to the Santa Cruz area, hosted by Patrick Williams and Kate Stafford. The proposal is still being fine-tuned before submission to a foundation. If anyone has suggestions for appropriate funding sources, let us hear!
Also, feel free to write back if you are interested in more detail on any of the above three tours -- ours and Irina's. (Irina wrote a report to share with our Russian partners who were unable to attend.)
The first "Culture/Eco-Ag Tour" to Russia scheduled for December was postponed to April, 2002, due to the dispiriting effects of the terrorist attacks on vacation travel. In hopes your zest for seeing the post-Soviet world has returned, we'll dispatch to you our message announcing the upcoming tour shortly. So, do be thinking about whether or not this would be a good time for you and/or your friends to take that long-postponed trip to Moscow, the Golden Ring, Novgorod, and St. Petersburg!
Our partners in Bryansk, Dr. Ludmila Zhirina and Igor Prokofiev of the NGO "Viola", conducted an impressive series of seminars and experiments, funded by a small grant of $2000 from Biointensive for Russia. Their report and photos arrived recently, despite a catastrophic auto accident they suffered en route to Biointensive experiment sites in early November. We plan to help them find funding for continued teaching, including to NGOs in the Caucasus region and southern, middle, and western Europe. Feel free to request their report, and subsequently to send a substantial contribution earmarked "for Viola"!
Albina Kochegina and Natasha Krestiankina continue to teach in their respective Young Naturalist programs in St. Petersburg. We plan to publish some of Albina's students' horticultural experiment reports in an upcoming newsletter, and on our site. Aleksandr and Larissa Avrorin are moving to Moscow, but Aleksandr is actively recruiting help to continue the spreading of the Biointensive word in Novosibirsk. He has books KAK VYRASCHIVAT' BOL'SHE OVOSCHEI... (HOW TO GROW MORE VEGETABLES...) available to mail out, so do write back if interested in arranging for one to be sent to a friend in the FSU!
Irina Maslennikova in Brooklyn, Yury Azovtsev in St. Petersburg, Marina Dadayan in San Jose, and I also worked on two new Russian translations of Ecology Action publications: the GROW BIOINTENSIVEsm teacher training manual (Booklet 30) and THE SUSTAINABLE VEGETABLE GARDEN, mostly telecommuting. We expect to have small editions of both publications ready in time for the April workshop. Vladimir Loginov arrived here in September via Greyhound, after attending an environmental conference in Washington. He spoke on sprouted-wheat kasha-making and environmental topics in southern Russia during a BfR mini-fundraiser held here in November.
There are various ways you can help us fund upcoming workshops and publications, including the following: (1) Send us a contribution -- It can be tax-deductible for 2001 if dated by the 31st. (2) Be prepared to come help with an upcoming mailing, if you're local to Palo Alto. (3) Think of people who might travel to Russia with us, and possibilities for helping us publicize the tour, and send me the info. (4) Join us at one or more of our upcoming mini-fundraisers: To the Forest, the Alan Chadwick Garden, and Camp Joy with Kate Stafford (Jan. 13); Understanding Soils with Fran Adams (Jan. 17), and Cooking in Harmony with Nature, presented by Kay Bushnell (Jan. 29). Further information on these events will be sent soon to the Bay Area list.
With warm wishes for rich rewards in simple pleasures and garden bounty in 2002,
Carol Vesecky, Director
Biointensive for Russia
As world events strip away our illusions of security, we find solace in the garden. Planting a seed, we smell the fragrance of the soil, sense the richness of its depths, and stand in awe at the multiplicity of its life forms. Around us, joy, beauty and diversity manifest, witnesses of the life-affirming bounty of the Earth. Our minds are comforted; our hearts find peace.
Perhaps some would call this withdrawal. However, in that same garden we discover the persistence and interconnectedness of life. Plants we call weeds are rushing to reclaim the Earth. Every worm, bird, butterfly, bee, insect and microbe going about its daily business has a part to play in the continuation of life. Our sense become more acute. We slow down our hectic lives. And finally we come to know ourselves as another link in that great web of life. We are connected. And this connection brings us firmly back into the world. We realize that since we are all one, our actions have consequences. We resonate with the pain of others, along with our own. But with the garden's peace in our hearts, we are not overwhelmed. We can act to help bring the life of the garden to the rest of creation.
For almost 30 years, Ecology Action's work has flourished because of your belief in the importance of what we are doing. We are grateful for the support whichhas come in many ways. We appreciate your continued support during these changing times.
In this beautiful season, may you find joy and peace in your own garden.
Jeff, Carol, Suzanne, John, Cynthia, Mary, and Vicci
Note from Carol V.: Memberships in Ecology Action are $30, and include a quarterly newsletter containing garden reports, sustainability updates, book reviews, and much more. The annual Bountiful Gardens catalog is another great benefit. Send your checks to Ecology Action, 5798 Ridgewood Road, Willits, CA 95490, before, after, or even without visiting http://www.growbiointensive.org/!