Everyday Practices and Best Practice Examples
House of Herbs, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
The « House of Herbs » trusts nature and its infallible power to take good care of their herbs.
On the intersection between the Dinaric Karst and the Prealps, in excellent conditions for the growth of various plant species (rare protected plants, herbs etc.), The « House of Herbs » trademark was born from the love of nature and its richness. Their way of production follows ecological principles. The plants are hand-picked, air-dried, and used in various products following the recipes of our ancestors. It is the carefully prepared herbs that give an added value to their products ranging from tisanes, liqueurs, herbal vinegars and ointments to natural soaps, all aiming to promote using herbs on a daily basis – not only as an alternative way of medical treatment.
Herbs are grown on two plantations: on an abandoned farm in Log, with a tradition that dates from the 19th century, and on the farm Pr’Marku (1050 m above sea level) that has only recently started eco-farming.
In the « House of Herbs », people trust the power of nature and let it take care of the herbs on its own. The human hand interrupts the natural cycle only three times: when sowing, harvesting, and using traditional procedures to extract healing essences, turning them into final products.
They are partners of the Idrija Geopark, following guidelines to protect, promote and market their unique geological heritage.
By organically growing, hand-picking and air-drying the herbs, as well as not using synthetic materials (fertilisers, pesticides etc.) or aggressive technologies, the « House of Herbs » sustains the integrity of nature. They maintain a comprehensive approach that tries to understand nature, accept it unconditionally, and respect its entire cycle – nature can take care of itself and preserve its balance.
18th January, 2017
Jenko Olive Oil, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Consume healthy, organically produced olive oil and take care of your health and the sustainability of our planet.
Not far from Koper, on the slopes of hill Sermin, the Jenko family has an olive grove with 680 trees. Their production is based on sustainable agriculture; the farm as well as its extra virgin olive oil are certified as organic. They produce varietal olive oils from Istrska belica (Olea europaea L.), Frantoio, Leccino, Maurino and some blended oils. Olive oil Jenko boasts the EU label PDO »Extra virgin olive oil from Slovenian Istria with a protected designation of origin«.
Their goal is to produce top quality olive oil. Olives from their grove are harvested manually at the time of their ideal maturation and processed the same day in one of the top modern olive mills. The olive oil is cold pressed. This technique preserves the fresh scent and taste of the olive oil and its beneficial ingredients.
Their products are sold in smaller organic shops all over the country, in supermarkets and restaurants in Slovenia and abroad.
Preserving biodiversity, the conservation of nature and local organic food production. Providing quality and healthy products to customers, promoting the importance of consuming local food of good quality among consumers and the importance of organic farming for sustainable development.
17th January, 2017
We produce, preserve, and exchange seeds. The future is in our hands!
The Seed Guardian Association was founded in 2011 and operates on the principle of social entrepreneurship, where revenues are reinvested in the development of the association. The main aim of the Seed Guardian Association is the preservation of old cultural plant species. It is known that in the world, and also in Slovenia, 75% of the crop varieties have been lost through years. This is the best way to preserve Slovenian natural and cultural heritage. The main element of the association is the seed library, which consists of an archive and a laboratory, where they keep and disinfect seeds under specific conditions. One has to register at the library before being able to borrow any seed for a year and then receives the title ‘’Seed guardian’’. At the end of the year, every member has to return exactly the same quantity of seeds or more. This is the best way to help ensure the existence and expansion of old Slovenian varieties of vegetables, grains, fruit plants etc.
The basis for their high-quality work is organised education for the members of the association and other organised groups. This takes place in the form of a wide variety of workshops, lectures and excursions. Each year, Seed Guardians organise a bazaar of seeds and seedlings where farmers and gardeners buy or exchange seeds.
Preserving the diversity of crop varieties is important for human existence, food security and sustainable development.
16th January, 2017
Aunt Lena´s Farm, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
You reap what you sow. (Cicero)
Besides farming, Aunt Lena´s Farm also includes supplementary farming activities such as the production and sale of homemade products. Despite the time and care needed for self-sufficient and environmentally friendly farming, Lena and her family still produce around 85 % of food by themselves. A variety of jams, vinegars, liqueurs, spirits, ointments and soaps can be found in their sale offer. Guests can participate in different activities that show the work and folk customs from the past or enjoy idyllic, peaceful, intact nature with different habitats hosting wild and domestic animals. Last but not least, the way of living and self-sufficient farming are presented practically, which is the best method to help guests visualise and understand the importance of environmentally friendly and resource-efficient farming in the future.
At Aunt Lena´s Farm sustainable and self-sufficient living is practically demonstrated. This can be perfectly used to enable visitors a better visualisation and understanding of the importance of environmentally friendly and resource-efficient farming in the future.
15th January, 2017
School Eco-Garden, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
A comprehensive approach to education about sustainable diet, organic farming and sustainable development with the « School Eco-Garden » programme.
The « School Eco-Garden » programme encourages kindergartens, primary and secondary schools to establish and cultivate their own school garden and use it as an interactive teaching tool. The programme offers expert support and encourages exchanging experience between institutions in the programme. It also offers support for the planning of the garden, its treatment and usability as a teaching tool. Extra qualification for members is available at seminars and workshops.
The programme also encourages the use of food from the garden in school and kindergarten cafeterias. For that purpose, they developed guidelines for ensuring the safety of the produce. The School Eco-Garden promotes a sustainable approach to cultivating food, ecological gardening, composting, sustainable use of water and energy. It also encourages biodiversity in the garden and its surrounding area. Children cooperate in the programme, learn and develop social skills.
The programme also maintains its own system of awarding the « School Eco-Garden » certificate to members that fulfil the criteria for it. It also promotes the school garden idea with public appearances and events.
According to the available information, the programme is unique in Europe for its national importance and a wide network of members.
The « School Eco-Garden » programme helps schools educate about the importance of the ecological cultivation of local food, educates children about sustainable farming through contact with soil and nature, and about environmental protection and sustainable development in general. Consequently, it raises awareness of the sustainable systems of farming and diet, the significance of local supply with organic food and its importance for sustainable development.
14th January, 2017
Idyll Park, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Derive from local and natural.
The Idyll Park project started when a concession for providing catering services was granted to a company near lake Bloke (Bloško jezero) that showed great potential. In the following year, the company operated with profit and the construction of a wooden playground inspired them to think bigger. The plan was to establish a large leisure area and it was eventually put in motion. The company bought a large plot near the lake and put up glamping houses, i.e. wooden tents. All of the plants are indigenous to the area and the infrastructure is built from locally acquired wood, as it is resistant to the effects of weather in the area. Unique wooden statues of bears, deer and other wildlife animals are scattered across the park. The company encourages environmentally friendly modes of transportation and even offers a discount to guests that arrive by bicycle. They have the same ecologically friendly attitude towards waste management and strive to use as much degradable material as possible. Water is supplied from local sources, but will see further investments, as the plan is to build a hot water well. The local farms also cooperate with them and offer a wide variety of organic products.
In Park Idila – Idyll Park the principles of sustainable tourism are strictly followed. They actively involve the local community. The crucial role is played by the surrounding woods.
13th January, 2017
Zavod Obilje, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Great riches and material goods are not needed for a happy and comfortable life, as all this can be found in nature.
On a 12 m2 area stands a wooden mobile home named »Hiško ». In it lives a young couple who, with its minimalistic lifestyle, poses an important question – what do we really need for a happy and comfortable life? The basis of their concept is the merging of the past and present with the coexistence with nature, and the reduction of costs and needs. Their goal was not self-sufficiency; rather they were lead by a desire to live on their own, to have a place for themselves and to enjoy the gifts of nature. In their home, every nook and cranny is made the most of it. With gardening as their most important activity they grow most of their food themselves. They use a special kind of swinging hoe to make their work easier. As a part of the project »Your gardener” they offer to set up sustainable gardens with garden beds, trees and lawns in addition to their regular care in accordance with ecological and family principles. One of their biggest problems used to be living without running water, as it demanded a great amount of resourcefulness and innovation. Among the most important of these innovations belong their compost toilet »kantà » and their solar food dryer »Samo ». They replaced the bathtub with a big wooden acacia tub. The water and electricity are obtained from the old barn. The couple uses electricity for lighting, the electrical cooker and the computer. Therefore, they were able to reduce their costs of living to 3 EUR per month during the summer months. They promote their ideas, know-how and way of life with various workshops, lectures, with work in the garden and on their website.
With its way of life, a young couple shows us how to co-exist with nature and influence the way it changes as little as possible. They succeed in doing this with a significantly smaller consumption of electricity and water, an increased food self-sufficiency, and an ecological production.
12th January, 2017
Think globally, act locally!
The community “ZA razvoj Tržiča” wishes to demonstrate a new way of thinking to the town. It wishes to act differently with its simple yet very thoughtful and spiritually rich contribution. Society-beneficial projects are introduced to connect people and give them the feeling of importance and acceptance. Even a simple small contribution towards the greater good can be a start of a new and promising story.
The community “ZA razvoj Tržiča” works in terms of local improvement of the quality of people’s and nature’s life. Its motto is “Think globally, act locally”.
The Community is new and has existed for only one year. Nevertheless, during the short time of its activity there has been a number of successfully conducted projects. Its basic ideas are inspired from abroad and introduced into the local environment with the help of many of the Community members. Therefore, the Community doesn’t act just on a local, but also on a regional scale.
The community “ZA razvoj Tržiča” wishes to introduce a different viewpoint of the world and act beneficially to society through projects in various fields.
11th January, 2017
For the forest and for the people.
The Pahernik Foundation strives for sustainable management of forests and encourages young people to study forestry. It also supports research activities, which contribute to the enforcement and development of forestry. The activities of the foundation are an exemplary sustainable management of Pahernik’s forest property, which is also a learning facility, dedicated to a memory of the forest expert eng. Franjo Pahernik and his family, providing scholarships for forestry students, encouraging research activity and a commitment to the general progress of forestry science. The Pahernik Foundation manages 552 hectares of forest, growing on the northern slope of Pohorje between the village Vuhred and the peak Velika Kopa. The property covers a rich habitat of a mixed forest of fir (Abies alba), spruce (Picea abies) and beech (Fagus sylvatica). Pahernik’s forests are noted for natural renewal, a mosaic of various species on a small surface, an above average annual stock (420 m3/ha), high quality of assortments, and an excellent accessibility by forest roads. The management is economically successful, the forest care is consistent, and the managers have an ear for the protection of nature. The Pahernik Foundation is opened for visitors interested in the management of the property. Students of forestry and numerous other technical excursions from Slovenia and abroad have been visiting the forests for over 50 years. They are also included among Exemplary ProSilva Forests of the ProSilva Europe Association. The administration of the Pahernik Foundation takes care of sustainable forest management, participates in the educational activity of the property, and uses raised funds for annual tenders and scholarships.
The activities of the Pahernik Foundation are mainly intended to develop sustainable forest management and forestry science. An important part of their mission is also bound to the economic success. For this reason, the foundation adjusts development processes so that they continually achieve the set forest management objectives.
10th January, 2017
Traffic Snake Game, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Sustainable mobility as part of basic education.
The Traffic Snake Game is a European campaign, developed for primary school children and their parents to encourage sustainable transportation to and from school (e.g. walking, cycling, public transport, and carpooling). Besides playing the game, every participating school is encouraged to organise other educational activities about traffic, mobility, environmental and health issues.
In every participating primary school the Traffic Snake Game lasts for two weeks during the school year. At the beginning, each school has to set its own goals based on a pre-measurement. During these two weeks, children put stickers on a poster every time they arrive at school using sustainable transport. The main goal is to fill the Traffic Snake poster with stickers and reach its head in the given period of time. Children receive a reward when they reach a key point on the poster and at the end the main reward waits for them when they reach the snake’s head.
Three weeks after the game ends, the data from the measurements taken before, during and after the campaign is collected and analysed.
For example, 65 % of the children from Domžale Primary School had been using sustainable mobility before the campaign, and during the game the percentage grew up to 92 %. After the game, 85 % kept the habit.
The main goal of the Traffic Snake Game is to encourage children, parents, and teachers to use sustainable transport. The game highlights this habit as fun, safe and healthy. Evidence shows that the campaign successfully increases sustainable transport methods and reduces CO₂ emissions.
9th January, 2017
“Si sapis, sis apis.” (« If you are wise, be a bee.”)
The Urban Beekeeper Society has been operating since 2014 and brings together beekeepers in the area of Slovenian capital, Ljubljana. The society was formed with the purpose of spreading recognisability, enforcement of beekeeping in urban areas, and to raise public awareness of the importance of urban beekeeping. At the moment, there are five members who hold ten to twenty hives with Carniolan honey bees (Apis mellifera carnica), which is an autochthonous Slovenian subspecies of the western honey bee. The hives are placed throughout the city; in front of homes of individual members, as well as public institutions that cooperate with the society. Although produced in the urban environment, the honey is flawless and of high quality. This is so because the dust particles are a problem mainly in winter, when bees hibernate and they don’t come into contact with flowers. Additionally, urban beekeeping has the advantage of the absence of pesticides, which are otherwise the biggest threat to bees. For greater recognisability and promotion they are working together with the Municipality of Ljubljana and the students of the University of Ljubljana, attend trade fairs, and are included in the project Urban Bee Trail. They also operate under a joint brand of beekeepers in Ljubljana “Ljubljanski med” and spread hives into parks and other green spaces in the city.
Among other things, they endeavour to improve the age structure of the beekeepers in the society, promote the good practice, inform the public about their activities, and improve the conditions for urban beekeepers as well as the degree of self-sufficiency of cities with honey.
Beekeeping itself is a sustainable activity; members of the society follow the organic beekeeping principles. Beekeeping thus contributes to the conservation of biodiversity. With their activity, urban beekeepers are important to the city, as their bees pollinate individual trees, parks, and green areas.
8th January, 2017
It’s crucial to find a balance between economy and ecology.
The eco-social farm Korenika is a social enterprise, providing employment and social inclusion to the disabled and people from vulnerable social groups who work under mentorship. There are more than 50 people involved in its various activities, of which 30 are employed full-time and 5 of them are working through public works. Others are included in other social programs and work rehabilitation. Their main activity is ecological farming and processing of high-quality food products. Beside that their activities include tourism, education, and health. They have around 20 hectares of land; 16 hectares are used for crops, 2 hectares for orchards, 2 hectares as pastures. Some of the land is also used as a herb garden, a greenhouse and a housing space for animals, which are used mainly for psychosocial support for people. The products are produced and processed locally in the natural cycle of production and have earned ecological certificates. The sales are conducted on the farm itself with the help of an online shop and a network of organic shops. An increasing portion of products is sold to public institutions, such as retirement homes, kindergartens, and schools. The farm also organises excursions, guided tours, trips, and camps for the latter. They work under the motto »act locally, think globally« and that is why they are in close cooperation with other local food producers.
The eco-social farm is not only a profitable enterprise but also one that has managed to incorporate all three principles of sustainability into its practice. They are developing a local economy to meet material needs with the help of local resources. The people from the surrounding area are important from the social point of view. Their farm has successfully integrated these three principles into operation, while also considering environmental ethics.
7th January, 2017
Skuhna, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
World cuisine Slovenian way – everyday somewhere else.
Skuhna – the world cuisine in Slovenian way, is a social enterprise project, developed by the Global Institute Slovenia and the Voluntariat Institute together with the migrants living in Slovenia. The distinctive characteristic of social entrepreneurship is the way the businesses are managed and the mentality of profit managing. The main aim of social entrepreneurship is managing environmental, social, and economic goals. The profit is not distributed among owners, managers, and other workers, but is invested back into the product with the goal of improving working conditions and the education of workers. Thus social enterprises are a part of the local environment from which they gather resources and where they return their corporate results. Skuhna helps the migrants get work experience and learn Slovene. They bring a part of their culture to the restaurant by contributing their authentic food to the menu. Along with the restaurant, they also run additional cultural activities such as talk nights from the migrants’ perspective and Friday evenings with stories about the cultural background of their food. Multiculturalism is also pointed out by hosting film nights with films of African, Asian and South American film industries. All these additional activities are run by the migrants themselves – they are an active part and the co-creators of Skuhna’s programme and not just regular employees.
Skuhna is a social enterprise which employs immigrants. It speeds up their assimilation, helps them learn the language, and enter the labour market.
6th January, 2017
Zadruga Buna, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Our four cornerstones are: knowing the origin, ensuring freshness, transparency, and environmental responsibility.
Buna Cooperative works as a part of a fair trade and is based on the concept of knowing the origin of the products, ensuring freshness, transparency, and one’s environmental responsibility. Their main product is coffee, but the operation eventually expanded to include cocoa, shea butter, and joint ordering of clothes. Its raw materials are obtained from Mexico, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Uganda, and India. Future plans involve establishing cooperation with Colombia.
The cooperative’s concept, in addition to its sales, includes expansion by raising public awareness through lectures and various projects. Their most prominent lectures are those about coffee, cocoa, and cotton, given both in schools and in various clubs and organisations. Awareness of proper waste management is being expanded with the workshop ‘Keep on playing’, in which toys are made out of waste materials. The Project ‘Take another bite’ dealt with discarded food. As part of the lectures on cotton, a documentary film ‘The true cost’ was introduced, and a travelling photo exhibition named ‘Fair photo’ was prepared. The functioning of Buna is associated with numerous international organizations, both for their own further education and the education of others.
Future projects include the inclusion of tropical fruits, the search for new sources of coffee, the relocation to larger premises, and cooperating in setting up a package-free store with local supply.
Every product is monitored from the beginning to the end, as in from the cottonseed on a field through the organic production to the article of clothing as a piece of waste. Their approach to the process is problem-oriented and focuses on the origin of the raw materials, their environment and their producer. The customer is involved in the process by being given information about the origin and price structure as well as some education on the topic.
5th January, 2017
Depo Vrhnika, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Once cleaned, space is gained and a good deed is done.
The idea of the Depo project was formed in 2013 and it was brought to life a year later. The purpose of Depo is to carry out the work needed by the local community. At the moment, the Depo team is working in the field of raising awareness and it is preparing numerous lectures for children and adults. In 2015 it also opened a shop for the sale of used objects.
People bring the objects to the assembly centre or directly to the shop, where they are checked, fixed, cleaned, and exhibited for sale. Unusable objects, mainly clothes, are used to make new, unique products. A part of Depo’s offer is also published on its webpage.
Apart from spreading awareness, it is also dedicated to employing creative unemployed people or hardly employable workers and ensuring green jobs. At the moment, it has two employees, who prepare and sell the objects. However, it also counts on three other people who are employed through public works and help with the preparation and the fixing of objects.
In the future, Depo is probably going to spread its business to other areas and countries. However, since this is a low profit organisation, everything depends on its success in gaining grants. The expansion of the offer on the local level is also planned, because Depo wishes to develop tourist programmes, help the elderly, and cooperate with senior citizens who have specific knowledge.
Depo spreads awareness in the fields of ecology and sustainable development and carries the message that an object that may not be of use to one person, can prove to be very useful to another. That is how it keeps its value and it ensures green jobs at the same time.
4th January, 2017
A well connected local community has many hidden potentials.
The main purpose of LETS Zasavje is to establish a balanced open community for the mutual exchange of goods and services, and for the neighbours to help one another. The main aim is to establish and strengthen social ties, thus one can always turn to someone for help free of charge. At the same time, this is also good for different age groups to come into contact, socialise and gain new experiences, consequently to preserve and develop the potential of and within the local community. By doing this, we will grasp the importance of local communities and will become aware of our own power, which will open up a different perspective towards consumerism. The trading circle is operated with the help of an exchange coupon named “Kuolm”. An individual brings goods or offers services and together with the leaders of the good practice they fairly estimate the “value” of their goods. The user then gets coupons and can later trade with other users. One “Kuolm” is equal to 1 €, and one hour of work or any kind of service is worth 5 “Kuolms”. This trading circle began in Zagorje, three and a half years ago. It even spread into two other cities in Zasavje, and in 2015, it started in Kamnik and Velenje, too. The event is carried out in special marketplaces every first Saturday of the month. The demand and supply vary seasonally, but homemade products and produce are very popular.
You do not need money to take part in local exchange trading system, you just need goods or skills. Community ties become stronger, which is important as people start to cooperate in other spheres as well. Trading locally also has a positive effect on the environment.
3rd January, 2017
Developing region trough collaboration of local community.
Students attending class Endogenous Rural Development in the academic year 2016/17 have conducted fieldwork in the Municipality of Miren-Kostanjevica. Through the locality observation, research based on the geographical characteristics of area, qualitative and quantitative research among residents of municipality, we have come up with two interesting and innovative business ideas that would contribute to regional development of the area.
In one group, we perceived a lack of integration and co-operation among the habitants of the aforementioned area, even though they deal with a variety of interesting activities and could perfectly collaborate. Another major problem are also underutilized places in the area. As a solution responding to those issues we designed a model of community-based enterprise(CBE), which would be formed as a co-created cooperative and would sell their products under the common umbrella brand. With the exploitation of primary resources and local knowledge CBE makes active greater part of the local population, they prevent migration and poverty, and also local population gets opportunity of employment within the enterprise. The establishment of CBE addresses multiple objectives: economic, cultural, social and environmental. This type of business has a positive effect not only on the employees within the enterprise itself, but also in the wider local community. In the first step we intend to invite (potential) entrepreneurs, educational institutions (schools, kindergartens), centre for elderly people, local active associations, Sadjarski center Bilje, individuals who can contribute to the enterprise and municipality itself.
Another group of students created an idea for local brand named “RIMiren”. Purpose of brand is to strengthen the collaboration between producers, farmer and restaurants owners. Local brand is based on historical presence of the Romans in this part of Slovenia and their cuisine. In the context of local brand two major events would be organized where participants show and present typical Romans dishes, made from seasonal local produce ingredients. The key for implementation of the idea is (again!) in coordination. Main tasks of coordinator would be to establish collaboration between participants, inform them and take care of brand promotion. Local brand would have positive effect on community, local food provision and tourism development in the Municipality Miren-Kostanjevica.
We are still in phase of ideas on paper. Representatives of local community (Hiša dobre volje, Sadjarski center Bilje, geography professor Tomaž Krivec, TIC, producers, farmers, restaurants owners) who participated in research welcomed and with incentives accepted our ideas and suggestions. In September we will represent our final ideas and findings at public presentation to representatives of municipality and other residents of Municipality Miren – Kostanjevica. And after representation we hope that one day we will see it implemented in local community for real.
2nd January, 2017
The Organic Farm Kastelic, from the RAC in Ljubljana, Slovenia
Live smartly and healthily!
The organic farm Kastelic is a good example of practising sustainable farming, located in Mirna Peč near Novo mesto. They are controlled and certified by the Institute for control and certification (University of Maribor). The family farm extends to 20 hectares of farmland. With the help of the European Union rural development funds, they started to produce food organically in 2002. They use biodynamic preparations and are a member of biodynamic association Ajda (Društvo za biološko-dinamično gospodarjenje Ajda). They produce Topaz, Opal and Sansa apples. Topaz apples are used for the production of apple cider vinegar, juice, crisps or dried fruit. They also sell vegetables, such as beetroot, potatoes, lettuce and onions, as well as tea, meat and cereal. Since 2014 they have been shelling spelt and selling cow’s milk. Animals on a farm are especially important as they provide organic fertilisers. The farm’s products received Silver and Gold « Specialities of Slovenian farms » Award. This prize is awarded in the context of a large project, implemented under the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry of Slovenia and the City Municipality of Ptuj. In the sense of an entirely sustainable management of the organic farm, they started to dry hay and cereals in the sun. After the renovation, they also started to heat the outbuilding with firewood. The organic farm Kastelic is placed among the important suppliers of food for primary and secondary schools.
Organic farming is an excellent answer to the ecological problems of the modern world. The reasons for organic farming are mostly safe and healthy food, environmental protection and biodiversity preservation. Organic farming focuses on working with nature and not against it, which enables sustainable development.
1st January 2017