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Why a school principal turned farmer

This is the story of Valeriu Goris, a farmer from Moldova, who has quit his job as the principal of a local school in his country after 14 years of total dedication, and decided it was time to work in the fields.

Valeriu and his wife Nadia together at their house in Moldova. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

Farmers because of their financial struggle

He took the land inherited from his parents, three hectares in total, and with Nadia, his wife, started market gardening. It was 10 years ago that the two of them built their first greenhouse. They faced hard times then, with the country going through a tough financial and economic crisis (not that things are much better now). Now they run their own business – Goris Tomatoes.

Even if they are not officially certified as organic producers yet, the family tends to meet the standards. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

‘The financial situation has made farmers of us. We returned to our small village and decided we would stay home and work here. We had three hectares and started to grow corn and other produce without using chemicals. We started with a few things. We did not know all these varieties of tomatoes and salads then’.

In his green house, Valeriu grows arugula, spinach, mustard, coriander, sage, thyme, purple potatoes, rhubarb and asparagus. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

The headless cabbage

Now, after all those years, Valeriu and Nadia have 40 types of tomatoes and dozens of other kinds of salads. ‘We have tomatoes in different shapes and colors. The smallest one is shaped like a pea. We also grow arugula, spinach, mustard, coriander, sage, thyme, purple potatoes, rhubarb and asparagus. People in Moldova call kale ‘the headless cabbage’ because it looks like a cabbage but it doesn’t have the typical ‘head’ we are used to seeing in a white one. We work with vegetables that aren’t eaten by insects and grow well in our greenhouses’, says Valeriu.

Valeriu decided to quit his job at school and return to the fields. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

Farming supported by the community

Though they’re not certified as organic producers yet, they don’t use any chemicals on their produce. They sell it via community supported agriculture. It is a brand new way of farming in Moldova and new for Ireland too. The basic idea is that the customers pay for produce in advance and therefore they work with the farmers as partners.

Valeriu and Nadia frequently organize open day events to show their customers how the food is grown. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

‘We have families of subscribers and we divide our produce between all of them. Today for instance, we invited them to come and see how and what we grow. They can subscribe for a total of 22 bags, each one costing 150 lei (about 7 Euro). We start delivery at the beginning of April and end in September’, says Valeriu. He also says that their main customers are people who are interested in organic agriculture.

Peppers are always present in vegetable bags. Photo: Tatiana Scutari

The customers don’t get the chance to come and collect the vegetables and fruits for their own bag. The farmers are the ones who give them what they have. This way, the customers are no longer buyers. They are partners.

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