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Archive for the ‘Living Green’ Category

Ukrainians gathered in the open-air museum of Pirogovo on July 6 to celebrate Ivana Kupala, an ancient summer holiday. Guests jumped over the fires, sang and danced to folk tunes. Young gils made flower wreaths and floated them in the water hoping to find a soulmate. (Olga Novak)

Ivana Kupala celebration in Pyrogovo

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My first visit to Ukraine in the fall of ’03 was a whirl wind of activity to see and experience as much as possible in 30 days.  One of the major activities was going shopping for food.  In America the environmental conscience prides themselves on all the farmer markets that are open in the summer time to sell fresh organic produce from peoples’ gardens.

Well, the farmer market concept I discovered operating in Kyiv was one doozey free enterprising outdoor marketplace that makes those weekend wonders back home in America seem pathetic in comparison. Here the outdoor markets are open year around.

Vegetable Market in Kiev

There are hundreds of these markets operating throughout the capital city of Kyiv. The first one I visited was quite large where you could buy literally almost anything, except what you really needed. You quickly become a master of improvisation to make do with what is available.  If they don’t have it, it is your problem not theirs. Ah, who doesn’t love a good mystery or challenge?  Little things I took for granted were missing here.  However, if you find the right person they probable can make anything you want at a reasonable price.  This is a land where you still can have something that is broken fixed or repaired and I mean anything from the very simple to the most complex.

I am getting ahead of myself.  I was anxious to see how the locals shopped and variety of foods that was available.  We had to walk approximately 10 minute to get to the market.  I had my trusty backpack on to carry the groceries we would be buying home.   when we arrived the market was filled with thousands of people.  I was astounded to see all the fruit and vegetables on sale. Certainly there wasn’t a shortage of food, as there was a shortage in variety.  All the produce that’s sold anywhere in the city is controlled by one supplier.  Not a bad business to control.

Being a foreigner from across the pond is wasn’t difficult to see that health standard or regulation didn’t exit.  I didn’t mind because I grew up on a farm so I wasn’t shocked by what I was seeing.  Many Americans would be quite disturbed how things are done over here.  They probably would become squeamish seeing flies all over the fresh meat, as the sellers attempt to brush them away with a small tree cutting under a hot sunny sky.  Then there were pesky little yellow jackets that have a fondness for ripe fruit were buzzing around everywhere. Americans would be running for cover, but the calm Ukrainian shoppers goes about their business without concern.

Selling fish at the market

The Ukrainians haven’t a problem with living green. It was a way of life before globalization. The majority of population is not concerned about consequences of mass produced food or about political correctness of the western world.  They are more concerned about more heady matters, like improving their day to day lives and enjoying the quantity and variety of food and goods the new market economy has provided.

However, Ukrainians are losing their organic lifestyle quite rapidly because naturally produced food is being replaced by large global agriculture conglomerates whose farming methods are far from being green.

When I first arrive to Ukraine farmers markets were filled with organic field tomatoes, vegetables, poultry, meat, and fresh fruit.  In spite of lacking sanitary safeguards it was wonderful to eat food that actually had taste for a change. You don’t hear of people dying or becoming ill from the food they eat here.  More than likely they have developed a tough constitution and have adapted quite well to their environment throughout the years.

Now when you buy vegetables at the outdoor markets from individual gardens that are grown in rural villages and pay twice as much for the pleasure, you don’t know if they are organic or they have been purchased at the local wholesale food market and resold as organic.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables from private gardens

If that isn’t sobering enough, how about falsified products produced by greedy local businessmen who bribed officials that are responsible for insuring all products meet safety and health standards. When a TV channel recently done an investigation of local butter it found that 50% of all samples of butter on sale at major supermarket chains were falsified and really wasn’t butter.

Living in Ukraine may be a lot like playing the deadly game of chance, Russian roulette or eating a Forest Gump chocolate, you don’t ever know what you are going to get.

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Throughout Ukraine there are many different fields of dreams with thousand of players.  A vast majority of these players go through life without much fanfare.  The players I speak are folk artisans that come from every nook and cranny of Ukraine.  They are an interesting breed.  Often time they appear to lack any enthusiasm whatsoever when selling their hand made products.

Nonetheless, there are artisans that are very talkative and like the idea of having their products for sale in America.  One such folk artist is from the village of Petrykivka which is in the heartland of Ukraine.  Lyubov Artyomenko carries on the tradition of Petrykivka Folk Art that was started around 1772 (four years before the United States gained its independence), in the Cossack settlement of Petrykivka (Peter).

Petrykivka Folk Artist Lyubov Artyomenko at Spring Fair 2010

She explained how the style was first developed by the women of the village. After they had whitewashed the outside of their homes, the women would paint bold beautiful colorful floral designs on the outside walls.  It became a contest to see which woman could come up with the most beautiful patterns.  Later these same styles were being used on all kinds of items like household goods (spoons, trays, chests, plates). http://ezinearticles.com/?Decorating-With-Ukrainian-Folk-Art-Collectibles—Petrykivka-Style&id=3980001

Lyubov said all Petrykivka Folk Art is about nature – mostly flowers, berries and birds.  However, the birds she paints are different from other folk artists.  Her birds are like seeing a painted dream. She uses her fingers to paint flowers and berries. In order to paint the very delicate and detailed feathers and bodies of her birds she uses special kitty fur brushes  made from the hair under the front legs of her cat (no her cat doesn’t suffer during this procedure because her cat’s hair grows back, rendering her Petrykivka Folk Art sustainable and ultra Green!).

You can see her works on sale at http://yolkstar.com/all-home-decor/petrykivka-art.  Her extraordinary Petrykivka home accents will give any kitchen a bright beautiful and bold organic natural lifestyle look.

Lyubov told us an interesting story about the symbolism of the painted Petrykivka mortar and pestle she had on sale.  It represents a happy family life and the two have to be kept together because they symbolize the nature of husband and wife. These two pieces are now a keepsake of ours.

The Fantasy Birds from Petrykivka at Pyrogovo Spring Artisans Fair 2010

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Good for your living!

The Three Plants That Will Improve Your Home Air Spring is here and the garden centers are open. It's time to get some plants, especially for inside your home. Indoor plants are really important. There are chemicals in and on almost everything you buy. If your air is not replenished with fresh air, it can be mildly toxic. But, with the right mix of plants, your air can be cleaned and oxygenated around the clock. With as little as these three plants, you can have this perfect mix: Areca palm – ( … Read More

via Broken Secrets

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My reason to visit Ukraine was personal back in the late fall of 2003.  It was fitting that I ended my trip by visiting the outdoor museum of Pyrogovo in Kyiv to get a glimpse into Ukraine’s past and a vision into my future.

It was a cool overcast day. The night before a light dusting of snow fell and the roofs of the museum buildings glistened with their soft coats of white.  There was a sense of sadness this particular morning because I would soon be flying back to my home in Montana, leaving the lady I had corresponded with on a daily basis for 4 years behind. We felt comfortable with each other and we both knew the 4 years getting to know each other was well spent. However, the lady was having doubts whether I would ever return.

We walked hand in hand and stopped frequently to take pictures.  It was very peaceful as we strolled through the different historic buildings and she told me about the different trappings of eras gone by. It made me think about my parents, who had farmed using horses and similar tools before they could afforded to modernize.

18th century Ukrainian folk house

The houses and other buildings reminded me of how life on the prairie may have been for the early settlers, who came from all over Europe, to put down roots in the new world.

As we walked I reminisced about taking my parents on their first vacation after 40 years of marriage back to the Midwest where they were born and raised. It was on this trip back in the late 1970’s I saw my first house made of sod.  The house was build in the 19th Century and was still being lived in by a relative back in Western Nebraska.

My grandfather's house on the prairie in South Dakota, USA

There was something about the atmosphere of Pyrogovo that attached itself to my heart, mind, and soul.  It was as though I was Don Quixote coming to joust with the windmills that dotted the beautiful pastoral landscape to win the hand of the maiden he came to see.

Don Quixote on his way to joust with the windmills

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