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Diaconia: Agricultural projects
The farm of the Smolensk diocese
Church Field
The subsidiary of the Bogoslovo rest house

The farm of the Smolensk diocese

In 1991 the administration of the Smolensk Region transferred 499 hectares of land near the village of Yarovnya to the diocese of Smolensk for free use. Some 314 hectares out of that area were agricultural lands, while the rest were either forests or poor farming but good grazing land.

One of the most important tasks of the farm is to support educational and social programs carried out in the diocese.

Already in 1991 the diocese, without having agricultural machines of its own, sowed and harvested crops from 60 ha. In 1992 it bought several machines including two tractors, a sowing-machine, a mower, a plough and other tractor-drawn implements to cultivate the land. In 1993 the machine fleet was extended, which allowed to cultivate all the arable lands. The fields were sowed with barley, rye, buckwheat and potato. A large area was used to sow grains. The bulk of the grain was brought to Smolensk for milling. By that time, a cow-shed for 20 milk cows and a pigsty for 50 pigs had been built.

In 1994 a bakery was built and put into operation in the diocese. To bake bread a large quantity of flour was required. In order to meet the need from the diocese's own resources, winter wheat has begun to be sowed since 1994. Its productivity is about 18 quintal a hectare.

At present the farm has at its disposal a vegetable store, a granary and a grain dryer. In addition, there are 4 tractors, a combine harvester and a potato harvester. There is also all the equipment necessary for haymaking.

In spite of the fact that the Smolensk Region is situated in a climatic zone of risky farming, the diocesan farm has had a stable harvest of grains and potato. This has been achieved through high-level agricultural technology and an effective use of organic and chemical fertilizers.

One of the most important tasks of the farm is to support educational and social programs carried out in the diocese. At present the diocese runs a seminary, an Orthodox gymnasium and a kindergarten. The farm has made it possible to meet at least partially the needs of these institutions in milk, meat and bread. The products are supplied to the educational institutions and the kindergarten at half-prices.

Part of the bread produced by the bakery has been given to the house for the elderly and to large families. In addition, the farm has allowed to earn some money for the restoration of ruined churches and for catechism.

Despite its considerable achievements, the farm is still facing many problems. It needs a wheeled tractor, another combine harvester, a hay-mowing machine, tractor carts and a separator for grain. Another problem is power supply. At present all the facilities and the church are heated by electric power, which is extremely expensive. There is a gas pipeline a kilometer away from the farm. A connection line would make it possible to change to gas heating which would ensure considerable saving. Unfortunately, the diocese cannot find these resources at present, nor can it find funds for so needed new agricultural machines. If these financial problems were solved, the farm could be able to meet the needs of the diocese and its charitable work more effectively.

Rev. Vladimir Mochulsky
Economic manager of the Smolensk diocese

  Telephone for contacts: (08122) 9-15-72

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Church Field

The Parish of All Saints Who Shown Forth in the Russian Land has been living and working at the Akademgorodok in Novosibirsk for over eight years now. From its outset the parish has been actively involved in the development of religious education and diakonia. At present, the Orthodox Gymnasium of St. Sergius of Radonezh established by the parish - the leader of the parishes's educational program - is known not only in Russia, but also in other countries. The Sisterhood of the Holy Protomartyr Grand Duchess Elizabeth Fyodorovna has gained both the love and gratitude of those for whom the sisters have taken care, giving them medical and purely human and spiritual support, and the respect of state authorities.

In 1993 the Orthodox gymnasium initiated an agricultural project called "Church Field" under the program "Siberian Spiritual Center". The purpose of the project is to organize a farm to become:

a) a base for educating the gymnasiasts for work and Christian attitude to work and nature;

b) an Orthodox mission tending the dwellers of the Yelbashi village near Novosibirsk around which the leased lands are situated;

c) a source for food and financial resources for the educational, charitable and missionary initiatives of the parish;

d) a source for high-quality and ecologically pure foodstuff for schools and hospitals in the Sovetsky District;

e) a source of good potato, wheat, soya and other seeds for parishes, farms and vegetable gardeners;

f) a high-tech minor farm running the tests of scientific blueprints in selection and agricultural technology.

We were inspired by the experience of monastery farms which, on the basis of prayer, conscientious work and high technology, used to produce invariably rich crops for which they thanked God without complaining of unfavorable climatic and economic conditions.

In 1993 the initiative group of the parish managed to lease 150 hectares of land, with 55 hectares of arable land, for its agricultural project. The land was officially leased to the gymnasium as educational institutions enjoy certain tax privileges in using land. The Church Field project provoked interest among international experts of the Round Table and was granted financial support from the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA (NCCCUSA). The funds were used to buy a wheeled tractor, a tractor-drawn implement and a set of tractor-hinging devices for cultivating potato. Thus it became possible to begin developing a church gymnasium farm.

It was difficult to begin this task in 1993 because the farmers movement was on the decline. Credits on preferential terms were no longer available and even those farms which had a full set of machinery at their disposal went bankrupt. The inflation was at its height, affecting producers, especially in agriculture.

We had an advantage over other farms in that many people, including those in power, favored the Church. Through the kindness of the director of the Yelbashi state farm, the director of the Academy of Sciences' Institute of Cytology and Genetics, the chief administrator of the Iskitim District and regional executives, it became possible to obtain temporary residences for workers, to receive and restore a potato storehouse and facilities for a granary, and to arrange a crossing over the brook directly from the village to the field. During the first years, the Yelbashi state farm supported us by providing specialists, machines and construction materials. We remember with gratitude all those who gave us priceless assistance in organizing our farm.

The farm has managed to put to use all the arable land. At present the gymnasium has 200 ha, with 100 ha of arable land, to grow wheat and potato. We also try to grow soya and some vegetables in small quantaties.

Thank God, we have had not a bad harvest all these years. There are enough potato and vegetables to feed the children and teachers in the gymnasium, the kindergarten and the summer camp for a whole year. We have been able also to provide potato for poor and elderly parishioners as well. We sell part of the products to schools and hospitals at Akademgorodok. It is gratifying that having received our products once, the buyers make orders in advance as they like our vegetables for their good taste and ability to stay well-preserved throughout winter.

We are obliged for the success of the agricultural project in many ways to Rev. Andrew Bazhenov, a biologist by profession, who graduated from the Department of Biology of the Novosibirsk State University and worked after the graduation at the Siberian Central Botanical Gardens. Father Andrew not only loves and knows land and can manage any agricultural machine, but also maintains strong relations with his former fellow-biologists at the Botanical Gardens. With their help we try to cultivate wheat of elite sorts and to introduce the new technologies of growing potato, soya and other vegetables.

The church gymnasium farmstead is situated at the Yelbashi village 60 kilometers away from Akademgorodok. For us, agricultural concerns are inseparable from missionary efforts. Yelbashi is a small village with some 400 dwellers, which has been considerably affected by the same problems as faced by Russian agriculture as a whole. Economic disrupter, lack of spirituality, drunkenness - this is a picture of the village. At the same time, the villagers more than once impressed us by their kindness, sensitivity and their intact reverence for shrines. During the years of godlessness, people's religious consciousness was almost erased, but they have still preserved certain Christian values. The director of the farm which once existed at the village, the leaders of the Russian Academy of Science in Siberia and the district administration welcomed the idea of cooperation with the Church as very promising. Therefore, the parish and the gymnasium carried out religious and charitable work among the Yelbashi dwellers as much as they could.

The Yelbashi dwellers live in an abject poverty. Many of them can not send their children to school as they have no money to buy them appropriate clothes. It was decided to help the Yelbashi dwellers. It should be mentioned that the parish has a permanent service for collecting clothes brought by parishioners and Akademgorodok people. We mend these clothes and take them to the house for the elderly and kindergartens. About 6 tons of clothes have been distributed among the Yelbashi villagers.

Some support by flour and soya was given to the village school. The vegetable seeds sent by the American Orthodox charity "Sower" also proved to be most welcome. About 20 kg of the seeds were distributed among the village dwellers.

With the blessing of the administer of the diocese - till 1995 it was Bishop Tikhon (Yemelyanov) and since then Bishop Sergiy (Sokolov) - the parish priests went out to Yelbashi to perform baptisms and extreme unctions, to take confessions and to give communion. During the last year these missions have been made monthly. People are baptized by whole families. Some of them come from the neighbouring villages, some even larger then Yelbashi. It is gratifying that new people are still born at the village. The baptism of babies is a special feast. Altogether over one hundred people have been baptized at this village. In the local eight-grade school, lessons are given on Christian faith and morality. The school has been given a library of religious literature. Children has already accustomed themselves to the priest. Generally speaking, the school has become the center of missionary work at the village. During the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, children and teachers come to Akademgorodok to visit the church and gymnasium and to attend the Christmas concert given by the Orthodox gymnasium pupils at the grand hall of the Scientists' Club. They leave for home carrying Christmas presents. During the Feast of the Epiphany, the Great Blessing of Water is performed. Over 50 people come for the thanksgiving on that day. During Easter, the Mass and a festive thanksgiving are celebrated.

At present, the situation in the farm with which we have worked in close contact continues to be difficult. Last year, however, some change for the better has begun to manifest itself. To our joy, the construction of a small modest church at the village is being considered. We understand that there are thousands of such villages as Yelbashi in the Novosibirsk Region and our mission is a drop in the sea. But we will be happy if we contribute to a religious and economic regeneration at this village at least.

Last year a high-ranking delegation from the NCCC led by Dr. Paul Wilson and Dr. Lamar Gibble visited us. In their response the guests gave a high assessment to both the effective use of the donated funds and our agricultural efforts.

With gratitude to all those who have supported us in the important task of helping the village and with hope for new partners and supporters,

Natalia G. Gorelova
Director of the Orthodox Gymnasium of
St. Sergius of Radonezh
Telephone for contacts: (3832) 35-78-82

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The subsidiary of the Bogoslovo rest house

The Bogoslovo rest house together with its subsidiary was first created to provide a retreat for members of the Brotherhood of the All-merciful Savior and their families and to house seasonal health and work camps for children and youth. In 1991 the brotherhood was given a plot of land 15 ha in area near the Bogoslovo village on the Volga bank in the Yaroslavl region. There was a half-ruined church with a cemetery, a forest and 12 ha of arable land.

Already in 1991, the brotherhood arranged there a tent health and work camp for children, youth and families with small children. With the help of a neighbouring kolkhoz, but mainly through its own efforts, the brotherhood sowed potato, greens and vegetables. During the summer the field was cultivated by watering and weeding. The camp used its own green onion, horse radish, carrot, greens and young potato for meals. The bulk of the potato harvest was gathered by secondary school children who came down from Moscow, with the help of machines borrowed from a neighbouring kolkhoz and stocked at the cell belonging to the people who gave us shelter at the Bogoslovo village. During the same year, the main altar of the summer church dedicated to the Vladimir Virgin was consecrated to make it possible to celebrate in it during the camp in July and August.

In 1992 the first building of the rest house with a storehouse for potato and vegetables began to be constructed. With the use of machines borrowed from the kolkhoz, the field was prepared in spring for sowing the potato of the previous year and various vegetable seeds bought by the brotherhood. All this work was done by the permanent staff of the rest house and members of the brotherhood who came down from Moscow. When the camp was opened, the necessary field work was carried out by its participants, both children and adults. The first and the second shifts of the camp were provided with greens and potato from the previous year grown in the subsidiary of the rest house. The second shift ate young carrot and early potato.

Since 1992 the potato harvest has been gathered by secondary school children coming down from Moscow. They work under the guidance of a rest house staff member, using the kolkhoz machines and putting the potato away in a storehouse. The potato surplus has been given to the church of the Resurrection in the town of Tutayev or brought to the brotherhood's soup-kitchen for the poor and large families in Moscow. The potato and vegetables from the storehouse are used during autumn and spring by the rest house staff, the workers restoring the church and families coming for a rest. The potato seeds are also kept in the storehouse to be sowed in spring along with other vegetables by the rest house staff and members of the brotherhood coming down from Moscow.

In 1996 a well was dug out at the territory of the rest house to facilitate the water supply of the camp and the subsidiary. In 1998 a Belarus tractor appeared and the cultivation of soil and sowing has begun to be done by our own efforts. In summer time the van of the brotherhood is put at the disposal of the rest house.

Each summer the Brotherhood of the All-merciful Savior arranges for their children, youth and families to have rest at the Bogoslovo rest house in five shifts accommodated at the house and in tent camps deployed at two clearings. One clearing is occupied by the family camp, while the other by children. The number of holiday-makers in each of the three major shifts is from 150 to 230 people. Altogether there are over 500 holiday-makers in a summer. The brotherhood plans to extend its subsidiary. Designs have been worked out for a green-house, a bee-garden and a dairy. Apple-trees, currant and gooseberry bushes have been planted. The strawberry field has been extended. The use of the holiday-makers' hands makes it possible to accomplish all the summer field work, thus giving children an opportunity to develop agricultural skills and to get accustomed to work.

A. B. Yefimov
Deputy Chairman
Brotherhood of the All-merciful Savior
Telephone for contacts: (095) 953-65-37

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