Азъ Градъ (≙ Az'' Grad'')
In the village Азъ Градъ (≙ Az'' Grad'') the residents are able to combine in their country life the beautiful with the useful in a way that probably exists in no other place on earth. To build this way of life, Mr. Sepp Holzer, a pioneer in the permaculture movement, was consulted.
But first things first. The name Азъ Градъ originates from the old (Church) Slavonic. Азъ (≙ Az'') is the first letter of the alphabet and means „God, living and creating on earth; beginning; primordial; source; united; unified; one; human.“ Градъ (≙ Grad'') comes from „gard -> grad“, which changed later into „gorod“ and means „town“. The word Grad‘‘ means something between village and town, a very beautiful kind of fairytale place. The idea of this place is that everybody living there becomes the capital letter Az‘‘. That means they become master in one subject, like a smith, and they teach their students in a way that they can continue their education after their training and become even better than their master. It means also to interact positively with other people.
Азъ Градъ is located around 30 miles from Omsk in central Siberia. The owner Andrey Alekseewič Nikitenko bought this land of over 800 ha in 2012 and founded Азъ Градъ together with about 600 people from all over Russia. Because of different goals and expectations, most of them left. During the last four years a new community was established resuscitating the original image of Азъ Градъ. Actually there are living three families occasionally accompanied by visitors staying a few days or months in order to help with the daily work. It was not until recently that new people became interested and started to plan building their own houses and become permanent residents.
The fundamental basics of life in Азъ Градъ:
1. Avoid a philosophy of life that can be described by words that end on „-ism“. (For example: If you are vegetarian, it doesn’t mean, that others also have to become vegetarians.)
2. The one who‘s idea it is has to implement it.
3. Do not disturb others by your words and actions.
4. Don’t remain in quarrels with other people. (Reconcile directly after a quarrel.)
5. Keep your quarrels by yourself. (Don’t speak to other people about your quarrels.)
Two impotant principles of life in Азъ Градъ are:
1. Every resident has to pursue their own aim of life. For example to become a potter and sell their own pottery products.
2. Discontents have to be brought up to avoid conflicts.
Social life plays an important role and follows specific rules. It is expected that women work at home and men at the workshops.
In Азъ Градъ there is a smithy, an oven building workshop, a pottery and a house building pottery. There are seminars to learn about the communitie’s activities, there is a recreational camp for children, a hostel for travelers and the offer of excursions for visitors.
The reason why we decided to go to this place was that we wanted to learn something about permaculture, which we had often heard about. What is permaculture farming and how does it distinguish itself from other styles of organic farming? While researching information via the internet we found this project on Mr. Sepp Holzer’s homepage, who had visited this place already six times.
According to Mr. Andrey Alekseewič Nikitenko, who refers to Mr. Sepp Holzer, permaculture is no farming but a way of life in harmony with nature. The place where people live is considered an ecosystem that has to be conserved and supported. In this system all living organisms (plants, animals, humans) have their space and they all live from each other. That means there is no farming in a common sense that sells crops for a regular income. The goal is to grow crops mainly for self consumption, and to leave around 30% of the harvest on the fields for the animals. Mr. Holzer also suggests to turn a minimum of 15% of the land into wet land in the form of ponds or rivers, to support the stability of the ecosystem. They say that in a proper working ecosystem, it rains when the earth needs it, meaning the earth feels the need for rain. Usually the garden still needs to be watered during summer time, because it doesn’t belong to the natural ecosystem. Any techniques can be used to grow fruits, berries, vegetables or grains. They just have to be ecologically friendly, which means no use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides and no GMO’s. Therefore the agricultural elements of permaculture are not especially new and not unique to permaculture. The same techniques are used in many different kinds of organic farming. A main aspect to all is to conserve natural resources like drinking water, fertile soil and biodiversity. Rudolf Steiner recommended already in 1924 to arrange farms like ecosystems with fields, grassland, bushes, forests and wetlands (see our report on "Japan").
Still, permaculture is not the same as organic farming. It is a way of life, to live in harmony with nature, with other people and with oneself. People who follow the permaculture philosophy aim not to become a slave of work and money, to get satisfaction from their work, to respect the diversity of nature and to take its benefits to live on. Nature doesn’t only mean food for all creatures, it is also a source of inner power and joy.
Contact and current informations:
♥ Because of
the wetlands and the forests during the whole summertime there are plenty of mosquitoes and tiny stinging flies in Азъ Градъ
(≙ Az'' Grad''), not only in the evening but all day long. So you have to wear good cloths and a cap with mosquito
♥ This place is not suggested for an internship in agriculture, because they grow only some vegetables like for instence tomatoes and salat for self-sufficiency in their own gardens.
♥ Азъ Градъ (≙ Az'' Grad'') is a good place to learn handiworks. On the homepage www.azgrad.ru you can find the current program of lectures in oven construction, smithery, pottery and so on.
♥ One important thing for all travellers to Азъ Градъ (≙ Az'' Grad'') is to have some basic knowledge of russian language, because people there hardly speak a different language. But if you already speak some russian, it's a good place to practice, because they like conversations, they explain and listen with great patience and integrate you in their special warm-hearted russian way.