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Thread: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

  1. #1
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    Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    The Cristian Science Monitor
    Russia's dacha gardens feed body and soul
    http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0625/p11s01-woeu.html

    Russians have been feeding themselves in this way for a thousand years and, despite the mass urbanization and industrialization of the past century, it's astounding how many still migrate out to their country retreats each summer, lugging shovels, hoes, and other gardening tools (along with kids and babushkas) in their overloaded cars. According to a 2008 survey by the independent Public Opinion Fund in Moscow, a stunning 56 percent of urban Russians possess a dacha or rural "kitchen garden," and one-quarter of all Russian families still rely on home-grown fruits and vegetables for part of what they eat.
    The idea of a dacha – a country cottage – is familiar to any reader of Anton Chekhov's stories about 19th-century life in Russia. But it only became a mass phenomenon in the 1970s, when the Soviet authorities began distributing small parcels of land around big cities (typically 600 square meters, or about one-seventh of an acre) as an inducement to urban workers to grow for themselves some of the foodstuffs that the official economy was poor at providing, such as vegetables, herbs, fruits, and berries.
    "The Soviet leadership had the brilliant idea of handing out plots of land to keep people occupied with feeding themselves," says Mr. Tumanov. "Since then, we've gone through a series of crises in Russia so terrible that, if they'd happened in any Western country, they would have triggered revolution. But not in Russia, because people had their little pieces of land, where they could grow food and keep to themselves. And that system still works."

  2. #2
    Hanna
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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    The dacha tradition exists in Scandinavia too. (called "summer cottage")
    But most people there are probably are too lazy to grow their own vegetables!

    I'd love to grow my own vegetables though. Not possible in London. But I love gardening.
    The dacha tradition is surely a great thing about Russia.

    --Have you got a dacha, or does your family have one?
    --Did ALL families get a dacha in USSR times, or just some? Completely for free??
    --Is it expensive to buy one now, for those who don't already have one?
    --How far do people travel to get to their dacha?

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    --Did ALL families get a dacha in USSR times, or just some? Completely for free??
    Not all, for sure, and with some regulations , eg. without right to build a house. In late 80s when tough times with food began,
    authorities still were distributing these 600-m^2 parcels ( and lifted some restrictions e.g. regarding greenhouses) , so definitely not everyone
    in USSR got dachas and for sure not for free.
    --Is it expensive to buy one now, for those who don't already have one?
    As far as possible from default city (but within 200 km), not under power line, so that one can build a house there, and with electricity - I guess about 2-3 K$. But buying it solely for food provisioning is absolutely pointless now - cost of labor and transportations kills the whole idea.
    --How far do people travel to get to their dacha?
    Again, in Moscow - up to 200 km, but I guess about 50% do less than 50 km.
    Russian is tough, let’s go shopping!

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    --Have you got a dacha, or does your family have one?
    No, but my parents had one in the eighties and nineties. Mostly because we moved to Moscow from a less rich city.

    --Did ALL families get a dacha in USSR times, or just some? Completely for free??
    It depended on period of time. Before the nineties that was a luxury of country leisure house for established writers, composers and government officials. Starting from the seventies, dachas became more and more affordable with the peak in 1985-1995 when nearly all had dachas. But dacha became something else - a small patch of land without any utilities like running water or sewing.

    The government gave land for dachas to cooperatives, not individuals. Those cooperatives were ogranised at factories, universities, any place people were employed. Outsiders could join only if the cooperative could not fill the vacancies with the employees.

    The expenses included an affordable payment and work duty - typically 5 workdays. The people worked on common needs like building local electricity networks and roads. (Machines were used if you think of gulag reading this). But one could fullfil the duty with a certain payment.

    --Is it expensive to buy one now, for those who don't already have one?
    Speaking about Moscow, that's affordable to nearly all while the place/size/travel time maybe discouraging if that's the cheapest variant.

    --How far do people travel to get to their dacha?
    Up to 2-2.5 hours while an hour out of them they can spend in a traffic jam.
    Please correct my English

  5. #5
    Hanna
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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Thanks Ленивец and vox for the interesting replies! I wish I had a dacha!


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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    I wish I had a dacha!
    That's possible only in the former USSR due to vast resources of unused land. In any european country the only option is buying a farm (or a manor )
    Even in the Moscow region buying a house with decent utilities and reasonable travel time means financially buying second home .

    In my home city of Krasnoyarsk (Central Siberia) the situation is much more relaxed. Within an hour of travel one can get to taiga. And there are much more close to mature places.
    Please correct my English

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    --Have you got a dacha, or does your family have one?
    I haven't got a dacha but I would like to. My parents have got one, but they live in Mary Republic. It's another life there. They need 15 minutes to get to dacha by car.

    --Did ALL families get a dacha in USSR times, or just some? Completely for free??
    I don't know. I was too young at that time. I am sure that the land question wasn't so bad as at present. The land was cheap and very often free. Now one can also get several ha free somewhere in Kirov region to start farming (100-200 km from any town). It's a govermant program. But every one wants a dacha not far from the city where he lives

    --Is it expensive to buy one now, for those who don't already have one?
    It is very expensive to buy a dacha in Moscow Region espacially the land costs are very high

    --How far do people travel to get to their dacha?[/quote]
    it depends... I think it's ok to get to dacha not less than in one hour because of ecological problems... Every one wants to rest in good place not near the MKAD
    You can have, do, or be anything you want...

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Are you still interested in dachas?
    My two cents:
    --Have you got a dacha, or does your family have one?
    I don't, but my aunt's family have one, and they spend almost all their free time there. There are a small house, vegetable and flower beds, a few fruit trees and even a hen house (with chickens ))) So the enjoy home grown vegetables (tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, vegetable marrows, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc.), berries (a standart Russian menu of strawberry, raspberry, gooseberry and currants), herbs, fruits and poultry. Ah.. and grapes.
    My aunt even grows cactuses there!



    --Did ALL families get a dacha in USSR times, or just some? Completely for free??
    Not all, probably, but anyone who wanted a patch of land, could get it, I think. My mom was given her 600 m2 completely for free in the 80's. Unfortunately, she dislikes gardening, camping and any activity that involves dirt and incects, so she gave it away shortly afterwards (she said that she was ashamed, that her patch was overgrown with weeds ). I was very upset, when she told me about that much later. I always wanted to have a dacha as a kid, but after collapse of the USSR we could not afford to buy one. So I grew up "dachaless".

    --Is it expensive to buy one now, for those who don't already have one?
    It depends on many factors, as guys have already said (distination, quality of land, infrastructure, etc.) But if you are ok with having a dacha far from your city, you can save a lot of money.

    For example, a moderately shabby house (2-4 rooms, some minor restoration needed, limited or no facilities) + standard patch of land (600m2) or more + small yard + fruit trees (if you are lucky) + river/woods/lake nearby (which is a nice touch) in 80-150 km from my city (a big industrial center in the Easter Ukraine) can cost as little as $7000. Or even less (but there's might a catch somewhere in that case).

    --How far do people travel to get to their dacha?
    It depends. My aunt's dacha - about 40 minutes by bike. I think, that if dacha is more than 2,5 hours away, it's usually considered too far (especially for people who grow plants there and need to water them regularly).

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Quote Originally Posted by gRomoZeka
    My aunt even grows cactuses there!
    Красотища.

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    vox wrote: cost of labor and transportations kills the whole idea.
    that could be true for moscow. But here in Krasnoyarsk I save considerable amount of money planting potato and storing it in "pogreb" at my dacha. enough to supply the whole family and some relatives (totally 7 persons) with potatoe till may - june. All it takes is to spend one day of may to seed the potetoe, couple of days in july to weed, and one or two days in september to harvest. During winter I just stop at my dacha, which is on the way from Krasnoyarsk to Divnogorsk (where I go for skiing every weekend) to grab some potatoe.

  11. #11
    Hanna
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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    This sounds like a great thing. Very similar to how we have it in Sweden - only difference is that the "dacha" used to belong the owner's ancestors, or they bought it. But it's just a tiny little house with a couple of rooms, usually not very modern. Some people use it to grow vegetables but most just go there to relax.

    Nice to hear that some people like Alware, still use the dacha for growing vegetables.


    Gromozeka, how annoying that your mother gave it away! Unbelievable. And a pretty "unmaterialistic" thing to do; just giving away a piece of land.. What a shame for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pollymundo
    My parents have got one, but they live in Mary Republic. It's another (different) life there. They need 15 minutes to get to THE / THEIR dacha by car.
    Mary republic - is that the same place as the "infamous" area in Russia where the people believe in witchcraft? I remember reading about that in the 1990s when stories about extreme stuff from Russia were always in the news in Sweden. Pretty interesting and a bit spooky.. I think it was called "Mari" though - and they have their own language which is similar to Finnish, apparently. Is it the same place?

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Nice to hear that some people like Alware, still use the dacha for growing vegetables.
    Not only vegetables. There are 6 trees of 4 sorts of ранетки (don't know english word for that- some kind of little apples). Plums. About 7 sorts of berries, cabbage and flowers.

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    This sounds like a great thing. Very similar to how we have it in Sweden <...> But it's just a tiny little house with a couple of rooms, usually not very modern. Some people use it to grow vegetables but most just go there to relax.
    It's amazing, that there's so much in common. Unbelievable!
    Gromozeka, how annoying that your mother gave it away! Unbelievable. And a pretty "unmaterialistic" thing to do; just giving away a piece of land.. What a shame for you.
    I totally agree! She was like: "Ah, take it away and give it to someone else who needs it more". *signs* Very altruistic, but very inconsiderate of other family members who enjoyed gardening (me).

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Our dacha is near the river:



    It needs 25 minutes to go there by car (from Taganrog, where I lived before Moscow).

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Very stylish photo SAN - The other great photographer on the site is Basil77...
    I love to see peoples photos. Thanks for posting it!

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Quote Originally Posted by Johanna
    The other great photographer on the site is Basil77...
    You must be joking.
    Please, correct my mistakes, except for the cases I misspell something on purpose!

  17. #17
    Hanna
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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Yeah i was just kidding... you are rubbish really....

    No but seriously, perhaps your quality isn't professional but you capture some interesting scenes and you make the effort of uploading the photos here so others can see them. I really enjoy seing your pics and some of them are very high standard, much better than mine.

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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Other photo taken near the previous, but 1 hour later:


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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    I remember in 70-x years my parents grew up cucumbers at a window. By new year there were first fruits. (Я помню в 70-х годах мои родители выращивали огурцы на окне. К новому году появлялись первые плоды)

  20. #20
    Hanna
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    Re: Dacha gardens - Russia's hidden food power

    Lovely photo San, thanks for posting. Thanks Aimak for writing both in Russian and English - it's really helpful for me!

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