Locals are crossing borders and combining their skills and abilities to help those in Ukraine

Community members stepped up to help Ukraine farmers
WTAP News @ 6
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 6:58 PM EDT
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With so much devastation happening in Ukraine since the war started, some local people are trying to help grow hope.

Muskingum County Farmer, Annie Warmke is working with a farmer in the war torn country to help cultivate new farms there.

Annie Warmke is the owner of Blue Rock Station Green Living Farm in Ohio.

Nataliia lives in Berdychiv, just 2.5 hours south west of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. She is a wife, mom of two sons, and has been farming for about 2.5 years. Currenlty, she is the Executice Director of Ukrainian Food Valley Public Union, a PhD student of Polissya National University, business consultant in marketing and management, and a team lead for the She Farms community.

In 2019, Nataliia was a finalist in the Open World Program in the Woman in Agro-Business Contest.

This is where she met Annie through an online seminar.

Annie was going to host Nataliia and other Ukrainian women at her farm in Ohio to show them skills to help their farms. That trip was canceled when the war broke out when Russia invaded and Ukraine.

When the war broke out in Ukraine, Natallia stayed in Berdychiv with her two sons.

The two have been in constant contact.

Because of the war, Nataliia and other farmers have been dealing with difficult situations, like having no fuel available.

“When she was planting her asparagus, she had a one-horse plow that dug the trenches for the asparagus which was quite a big area of space she was planting.”

Nataliia said that working with Annie has been very helpful and has taught her how to act in the future to help other women.

“I didn’t know how to do it because I had no such experience, but Annie does, and this is very important for m e and helpful.”

Annie said her farm is all about resiliency, using what you have, and repurposing… which she has seen Nataliia succeed with.

“She needed to plant things and she figured out how to make it happen, And She’s organized a lot of people in that village to grow specific kinds of food, so they are able to feed each other when it’s dire.”

Annie wanted to step up and help in all the ways she could.

One way is through the transfer or knowledge, the other is by raising awareness and fundraising.

She started working with Roger Kalter, a community organizer, and Bonie Bolen, a local artist.

Roger heard Nataliia’s story and got Bonie to paint a mural of Ukraine’s president, Zalinsky.

Local artist creates mural to help raise awareness for farmers in Ukraine
Local artist creates mural to help raise awareness for farmers in Ukraine(Bonie Bolen)

“I think like, when you feel like there’s not much you can do and somebody gives you the opportunity to be like, okay maybe we can help here somehow.”

Kalter remembered what was once told to him, “If we don’t take care of out community, who will?” Stating that, “Ukraine is part of our community, we’re part of a planet here.”

Bonie’s mural is a 6 foot by 4 foot canvas. She said she wanted to make it life size and lightweight to be able to carry to different places if wanted.

Roger and Bonie made T-shirts with the mural’s image. Roger said that all of the profits will be donated to Nataliia. The shirts require a minimum donation of $30 and can be purchased at the Blennerhassett Hotel in Parkersburg and Whit and Whimzy in Marietta.

Both Nataliia and Annie say they are grateful for their friendship.

“I’m getting as much out of it as I’m giving, I guess that’s the main message,” reflected Annie

Annie said that once the war is over, she plans on hosting Nataliia and teaching her more skills to grow her agro-business and help other women farmers in Ukraine. Nataliia wants to start processes what she grows at her farm and start classes for other women farmers in Ukraine. Nataliia hopes to grow her business, and teach other women how to make the farms profitable and sustainable.

Nataliia and Annie are currently working to create a GoFundMe to help with donations.

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