Dainius and Zavinta from Lithuania

“I am an experienced electric motor winder, and I am currently studying welding in addition to working full time in our homestead. Zavinta is the designer and seamstress. We have been together for almost 9 years after first meeting in London. We returned to Lithuania 2 years ago. We bought a 3.5 hectare, hundred-years old abandoned farmstead in a small village in the northmost part of Lithuania. It is a home for a variety of ancient apple, cherry and plum trees, gooseberry and currant bushes, wild tulips surrounded by hundreds of old, big trees.

Our wooden house, rock outdoor cellar and clay barn were almost unlivable when we moved in – there was no electricity, the roof was leaking, the wind was whistling through the windows, the floor was rotten, you name it. We started repairs as soon as we moved in but after 2 years of living here, we are yet to install the plumbing system.

Our dream of living in a remote, quiet, idyllic place started whilst we were still living in the city. We both enjoyed vegetables and fresh food, but we knew that what we bought in the shops, was chemically grown – eggs, veggies and meat had no taste, no aroma, and most importantly, eating them was not healthy and sustainable in the long run. We wanted to eat healthy food, knowing that it is grown organically, slowly and without harmful chemicals. We were also curious of the whole food-growing process – observing plants sprout, grow, ripen.

Since we came back, growing our own food became one of the key priorities. In the summer we eat fresh vegetables and fruits and at the end of summer season, we start getting ready for winter. There are vegetables that hold up well during winter months in the cellar like beetroots, carrots, potatoes, cabbages, radishes, turnips. We also ferment a lot of vegetables, make sauces, juices, fruit jams and keep them in our outdoor cellar.

Our homestead is located in the Northern Lithuania. Currently, our organic no dig garden is about 1,500 square meters, and we grow a wide variety of vegetables, berries, and herbs. We grow hard neck garlic in an area of about 300 square meters, and we use it to produce black garlic. We have two 3m x 7m greenhouses where we grow tomatoes, cucumbers, melons, chili, peppers. We also have berry bushes, fruit trees and two beehives. And how is the village without chickens?! We currently have 25 hens, 2 roosters, two beautiful peacocks and three cats.

We use straws, tree leaves, our own compost and organic mushroom compost to improve the soil. It is not always possible to protect against plant pests, but we leave as many habitats as possible for animals, insects, and birds, such as a wood pile for hedgehog, the tree leaves for bugs, bushes for birds whilst trying to grow as much plant diversity as possible. We have not tried to save seeds yet, except zucchini seeds. We buy seeds from organic stores. Sometimes we exchange seeds with friends.

Our place has long been abandoned for a very long time before we moved in, but little by little we are moving forward and seeing progress in all parts of our homestead. Eating healthy, fresh food is a luxury. Knowing how to grow healthy food and share it, is an incredibly rewarding experience.”