Duck, duck, goose…and 300 chickens! (Garden Project Report, 2013)

From guest blogger Roni Stepan (a.k.a. Tata Roni).   Roni and his wife, Rodi, have been house parents at Ana’s House in Arad, RO, since 2001. They have 12 children.

Our garden and small farm at Ana’s House is one of the most beautiful projects we have created and developed year after year. It is an ambitious project that aims to achieve several objectives: developing a love for work in the children, cultivating a spirit of team work, demonstrating that God blesses the work of our hands, and growing vegetables and fruits at a price lower than the market price.

In 2013 we raised 80 hens, 20 turkeys, 20 ducks, 2 geese and 300 chickens. For three years we have not bought poultry from a grocer!  The greatest advantage is that children have a new skill that will be benefit them throughout their lives. Through this project the children are more accountable and live closer to the reality of life that awaits them as they become independent adults. In 2014 we want to increase the capacity of our small farm and try to sell some of our produce. We hope that a future farm is sustainable and can even offer jobs for some of our children. We believe that if they take this work on the farm seriously, they can develop a business with organic meat and produce later in life.

In the garden we produce first and foremost to cover our day-to-day needs. To this end we have produced every vegetable that can grow in Romania: potatoes, carrots, celery, kale, peas, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, squash, cauliflower, broccoli, dill, parsley, eggplant, and cabbage. These are preserved and canned for the winter. Again, we didn’t have financial returns here, but we always had fresh vegetables with great taste. Children were involved and learned all the phases of planting, harvesting and working the land.

Fruits and flowers are also part of our garden, and in years past we have planted trees and bushes of all varieties: apricots, apples, pears, plums, quinces, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and peaches. Our homemade jam awaits our guests for a sampling! We never buy jam from the grocery. We are thinking about developing our homemade jam and jelly into a small business in the future. We enjoy brainstorming ideas of creating a label and testing our product on our friends and family!

Flowers are a special passion of our girls.  Together with Mama Rodi they have made our home a true paradise over the years. We have the most beautiful flowers that can be grown in Romania. If you don’t believe me, come and see for yourself!

All these things would not have been possible without your support, both in prayer and financially.  We thank God each year for all that you do for us. While we cannot show that our projects have clear financial gain to ensure their sustainability, we sincerely believe that we gain more by developing in our children a love for beauty and for work. We see clearly that the man who works is blessed by God. We read in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 that one of our duties as parents is to teach our children to work. Soon, we may no longer be with them, but the values that we plant in their hearts and minds will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Gratefully,

Roni Stepan