Caritas of the Archdiocese of Olomouc has been helping to waifs and socially disadvantaged families in Ukraine for several years now. Orphanage “Pearl of life” in the village of Bortnyky is one of the main beneficiaries of this particular aid. In this very village, the idea to set up a blueberry plantation was born in 2018. Incomes from this project should give the orphanage the ability to be financially self-sufficient in the span of three years.

The central idea of the project does not only revolve around the financial matters, but also focuses on the educational side. The boys from the orphanage are doing the major part in setting up the plantation in order to develop work habits which will help them in their future life and that they would otherwise get in well-functioning families.

Before the work on the project could start, chemical soil analysis had to be done to determine which crops were most suitable for growing. The results showed that the soil is very acidic and that growing blueberries is advised. In the next period of time, employees of the orphanage searched for information from various sources and attended a course regarding growing fruits.

After the theoretical side of project was sorted out, the preparation work could commence. It was necessary to prepare the soil, buy the bushes and plant them, raise a fence around the plantation, create an irrigation system and hire a person who would be responsible for the plantation. Every step of the plan was carried out and right now there are 33,500 transplants in an area of 10 hectares. The plantation was subsequently enclosed with metal mesh and is being watched 24 hours a day. The only thing that is left is to patiently wait until the plantation bears fruit in order to establish a network of buyers.

Blueberry growing will also help to create more job opportunities in neighbouring rural areas and it will have positive influence in the local community. First harvest is to be expected in July 2021.

Dagmar Jurčíková, Caritas of the Archdiocese of Olomouc

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