Day 3 of Hungarian Meeting

Day 3

Today we visit Budapest in all her glory. We start with a tour and talk by Era in her newly established place (3 years) in and share a wonderful lunch there.


It is both a social enterprise and a business. One side is for education on how to work with food and the shop on the other side of fresh local produce. As there is a shop full of wonders, we are queuing to purchase things from the region. They are a buyers social enterprise and they try to use only items from within a 50km radius. 90% of what we eat is local with the exception being tea and coffee and a couple of other items on sale. In these cases they have a personal relationship with the grower so are assured of fair trade. We are impressed and meet the volunteers who keep the place afloat. They employ people in the shop as it makes a profit but we are told it would not be possible without a big voluntary effort. It reminds me of so many of the best initiatives and NGO’s, without voluntary effort they simply could not function. The best things (people!) in life are free. Or to re-phrase only the best people give of their time and energy for free and it would be a lesser world without such efforts.

New garden Enterprise.

We are taken to the new Garden of Hungarian Co-ordinator Agnes Repka and partner Mark and are given the freedom and materials to  Meitheal (irl) andecha (spain)  to create the shelter from the sun.


We find ourselves drawn to build a shelter around a Hawthorn Bush. We share the little knowledge we have from all our cultures. In Ireland it is a sacred fairy tree and considered unlucky to cut it down.



We are welcomed by Agi and led in a permaculture workshop by Dutch Co-ordinator Monique Wijn with an invitation to design the space. They have just taken on a lease in the garden (2 weeks ago-the ink is barely dry!) and we are welcomed into a south facing slope which has been human free (abandoned?) for 4 years. It is dry and the water situation is as yet unclear. HMMMM. The interesting question of human and natural partnerships are explored. In some ways the garden in her natural glory is getting along quite nicely without us. There is an abundance of plant and other species and fruit trees. And yet there are also invasive species which need to be controlled.  This garden borders a nature reserve on one side and an affluent neighbourhood on the other. Invasive species are like the bullies in an eco system-they give no space for other plants to grow and they block out the sun and life of those around them. Humans can now have a practical interaction to clear away what is not needed and allow Nature to find a balance, cut back, prune, listen, observe.


The crowd split into groups and each share their design ideas with permaculture principals in mind. There is a wonderful exchange of wisdom from experienced heads and some good designs are born. Of course the resources of time and money are the main limiting factors as well as balancing the needs of Agi and Mark with the needs of the land. Some pearls of wisdom emerge from the group and I summarise the best for the short term plan…



Use the resources of  your friends to help you to listen to the call of the land. I wish them stamina  and many friends to clear the spaces and let the beauty of nature unfold. With a raw food business enterprise also newly started by Agi and Mark, there is the possibility of gathering edible wild flowers and herbs from the space to share with others. Agi and Mark are a good blend of inspired courage and steady hands and I am put in mind of the head, heart and hands trilogy to answer the call of the land.20150613_152501


Neighbours from a nearby garden on this hill invite some of the group to look at how they are getting on. We share ideas, songs and knowledge before sharing the pot luck picnic Mark and Agi co-ordinated for the day.

Cultural Exchange

In the evening some of the group walk to the local bar and are met by wonderful kind Hungarian people unused to visitors in the area. After some pleasant exchanges of songs and humour, the group are given a souvenir from the bar owner of a glass to take back to Ireland. The Irish extend the invitation to visit the glass in East Clare Community Co-op coffee shop where it will be housed for health and prosperity.


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About Fionnuala

Fionnuala Collins works at East Clare Community Co-operative and is the Irish co-ordinator for this project. A philosophy graduate, she has furthered her studies with Community Development practice and Youth and Community work. Fionnuala is interested in how food can build partnerships and communities, especially in the act of sharing nutritious meals as a form of celebration. She is interested in why food poverty exists, and if there are really foods and diet lifestyles that either boost or destroy health. Fionnuala thinks The future of food partnership will bring together many aspects of community development practice and sustainable food production and sharing. Furthermore through sharing ideas, research and learning on what is the right direction for the future of food we might learn if there is a sustainable and health enhancing diet for the here and now.

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