It’s been a long time!

We have so many interesting things going on, so we will try to tell you about it in this letter.

Let’s start our story from May. In May, our young researchers Daria Yashkina and Ruslan Zaporozhchenko were constantly on the road. Why, you may ask? Because our Kharkiv Fusilli team decided to conduct the Kharkiv Green Urban Tour, the purpose of which was to travel to different districts of Kharkiv and communicate with local residents. The topic of the communication: How do the residents of an urbanized city manage to continue gardening, even under the war circumstances and constant shelling of Kharkiv?

Exploring Gardening in Kharkiv amidst War: the Kharkiv Green Urban Tour

First, we note that Kharkiv is the second largest city in Ukraine by the number of inhabitants, and therefore there are a lot of apartment buildings and infrastructure facilities. However, this does not mean that Kharkiv does not have a private sector, local gardens or land plots near apartment buildings used for gardening. The tour of our young researchers demonstrated that Kharkiv residents are actively engaged in gardening and are already planting their first seedlings: spices, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and so on. And when asked a simple question by our young researchers “Why do you do this?”, the locals answered “I like it” or “The land and weather are so nice, so we have to grow something” , or “It helps me stay calm during stressful time of war”.

Secondly, most residents of different districts of Kharkiv were very friendly and polite, so our Daria and Ruslan joined the “work in the field” in the literal sense of the word. For example, Daria helped to clear the gardens of weeds, and Ruslan helped to plant young tomato and pepper seedlings. Thus, our young researchers clearly saw how the process of growing herbs and vegetables takes place and how much work and time it requires. Although it should be noted that, for example, Ruslan already has good experience in gardening, as he comes from a small town in the Luhansk region and constantly helped his parents grow herbs, vegetables and fruits.

Thirdly, Kharkiv Green Urban Tour was the first step towards a new and interesting project of our Fusilli Kharkiv team. Kharkiv is a large and urbanized city, has a huge potential and desire of local residents to engage in gardening, grow their own vegetables, fruits and herbs, and share their experience and impressions with us.

Daria and Ruslan shared the results of their tour on our social media, and you can find the stories of the locals our researchers talked to on Facebook under the hashtag #kharkivgreentour. 

Gallery: (1) FUSILLI Kharkiv Team Garden, credits: Ruslan Zaporozhchenko; (2, 3) Urban gardens, credits: Daria Yashkina.

Bridging research and war management

After a successful tour, we returned to educational activities to build our Fusilli community and replenish our knowledge bank. With the support of the FUSILLI project, on May 25-26, an international scientific and practical conference “Ukraine on the Way to European Values” was held in a mixed format as part of the international project “Future of Public Administration” (FoPA).

On the first day of the conference, Olena Muradian, Dean of the School of Sociology and coordinator of FUSILLI project in Kharkiv, spoke about managing international research projects during the war. The lecture raised the issues of crisis management, teamwork during the war, building and establishing relationships with the government, state bodies, and authorities.

Ruslan Zaporozhchenko, a senior lecturer at the Department of Political Sociology (School of Sociology), a junior researcher at the Fusilli project, spoke about organizing Living Labs with schoolchildren. They discussed the activities before the war: holding workshops for school children on growing micro-greens, which were organized with the involvement of our partners Green Landia NGO, and lectures on healthy eating.

At the lecture, Ruslan Zaporozhchenko also spoke about certain difficulties in interacting with school institutions and the need for lengthy administrative preparation of projects for schoolchildren. Following up on the first day’s topic of government-business interaction, but from a slightly different angle, the second day presented the opportunity to talk to representatives of NGOs and food business owners.

Kateryna Uvarova, a graduate of the Karazin University’s School of Sociology and founder of the social enterprise 3.14 BAN, spoke about the ways of business relocation and what factors are decisive when choosing a region for relocation. The lecture also discussed that the relocation process requires support from both the state and local authorities.

Hanna Holovina is a member of the NGO CGMI (Center for Civil and Media Initiatives) and a representative of Kharkiv Zero Waste. At the lecture, Hanna spoke about the main principles of responsible consumption and recycling of materials, the opening of public composters in the city of Liubotyn (Kharkiv region), and the importance of taking responsibility for your waste and increasing your eco-habits during the war. Sergiy Kopylov, entrepreneur, director of Agronasiyaprom LLC, volunteer, spoke about the effects of active hostilities on agriculture, the functioning of the food business during the war, and the sowing campaign. At the lecture, Serhiy spoke about the problems with maintaining business in the occupied territory, the loss of agricultural machinery, mine danger, the daily risk of being in the area close to active hostilities – losses and challenges that require support from the state.

Tetiana Chernikova is a co-founder of the Green for you microgreen city farm and the Green Landia NGO. In her lecture, Tetiana emphasized the need to be agile, to defend your interests at the government level, and to expand the number of partners. Their experience of re-profiling their business during the war is represented by new projects for the production of food in retort bags – delicious food in bags without using any preservatives, mastering new agro-industrial areas of business.

After the successful conference, we went further and organized the entire Kharkiv Green Urban Fest 2023, a large city event that brought together like-minded people from different areas of the city. 

Gallery: Green Landia NGO Opening, Credits: Anastasia Soshenko


Author: Olena Muradyan, Kharkiv FUSILLI Living Lab