“Choose a life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DSY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away in the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself, choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?”
The famous quote from the well-known Irvine Welsh’s book, Trainspotting, points out the paradox of occident way of life. We are supposed to be free, to have the capacity of choosing whatever we want but in the end we actually don’t choose. We just do the things that we are supposed to do. We just get money, buy things, throw away things, buy new things… fostering an unconscious cycle imagining that resources are infinite and nature will be there forever as it was before.
Fortunately, not everybody is like this. Some people question this way of life. And they not only write about it but also take the initiative and show the world that is possible to live under other terms, making the most of the natural resources without wasting them, being aware of everything around us.
One of these examples is the association Area Viva, founded in 2001 to support and promote organic agriculture in Czech Republic. Reach their home is not easy but it is totally worth it. Biostatek farm, the place where Vojta, Lenka, Hedvika (their baby), Květoš and Mélanie live, is located in a little but stunning village called Valeč, on southeast foot of Doupovské Mountains, 35 km from Karlovy Vary and 8 km from the closest train station.
After a long walk through the nature, other little villages and abandoned places, you can see up on the hill the marvelous Valeč castle. It is a medieval one which was several times reconstructed in renaissance and baroque style and which now is under renovation because in 1976 was completely burned out. Although it still looks quite abandoned, you can go inside and feel all the history that once was inside their walls (before the fire, for example, it was used as an orphanage for north Korean children). The impression can be even stronger that in normal renovated castles but if it is not to your liking, you can at least enjoy the lovely park around it, filled with a wide range of trees.
Around 400 people live down the hill, in Valeč. Biostatek farm is not really there but hundreds of meters further, not so far from the castle actually, in some huge orchards surrounded by mountains. The views from there are simply breathtaking. Some wooden structures, tents and maringotkas (see the foto to know what it is exactly) are the signs of human life in the middle of that whole green landscape.
And this is where Mélanie arrived three weeks ago. She is from the Bretagne region in France and will spend one year working in Area Viva as a European Volunteer. Although her background is not related to it (she studied translation), she is really excited about all that is waiting for her this year. Since she arrived she hasn’t had time to get bored. The first week, as many others international volunteers in Czech Republic, she had the on arrival training, and then she had to deal with the heavy rains that have been causing floods over the whole country.
The first weekend of June a group of volunteers from Tamjdem joined her. We were from United States, Ecuador, Germany, Spain, Slovakia and other parts of Czech Republic. Concepts such as permaculture, organic garden, compost… are now familiar for us. We got the chance to experience how the life in an organic farm is and we helped Mélanie to balance her Maringotka and to build a fence around it.
Now we are gone but life keeps going on the farm. The work in Area Viva is mainly divided into two different fields. On the one hand, there is the common work of an organic farm. Among other things, Biostatek can directly produce wool, meat, milk, honey, fruits, cheese, cider and other liquors thanks to the ships, the orchards and the mobile beehouse they have in the farm. There is also a stream floating through a part of the orchard and a parmaculture garden which spreads around it.
All the stuff is treated and certified according to organic principles and it represents more than a half of the food they consume during the summer. Of course, they can’t produce all they need but they try to get everything by exchanging. If you have eggs and I have cheese, we can have eggs and cheese. And money has nothing to do in this equation. Unlike our common life, money is not anymore a God around here and that is one of the main points they try to show us.
On the other hand, there is all the work related to project management, which takes place in an office close to Valeč castle. One of the goals of Area Viva is to educate broad public on the issues of ecological agriculture, conservation of the environment, sustainable landscape design and related activities. Mélanie will help with it promoting environmental education and volunteering in organic farms, assisting in the organization of educational and training programs, in children excursions to the farm, in ecological campaigns…
As we can see, there is always life around Biostatek farm. Of course, you can enjoy the peace and serenity of the countryside, but also there is always something going on around here. One day there are volunteers from everywhere sharing different experiences around a bonfire, other day you can find children from the closest school learning how to sheep milking and the next one there are thousands of people dancing and jumping with the music from their favourite bands (some important music festivals take place here).
And what is more important, there is always a free place for you. You just have to take your bag, leave your prejudices behind and be willing to experience another way of life, as Mélanie is doing this year. You can still choose…