The farm Etelka is located near the village of Prašník, in the western Slovakia. Mr. Martin Bagar, the owner of the family-run farm, works on the farm, does business in the construction field and stars in the reality TV show "Farm" where he is a central figure. The farm Etelka has become popular in Slovakia thanks to the show and currently attracts many visitors not only from the region but also from the abroad. The main farming activities include animals breeding - goats, cows (Jersey breed), pigs (the Mangalica), and production of goat milk products: milk, yoghurt, cheese, cottage cheese and Jersey Milk.
2. Promoter profile
3. Farm Profile
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The farm Etelka is located in the Little Carpathians Protected Landscape Area, at the foothills of the Myjavská Pahorkatina (under the hill of Čelo) on the eastern border of a traditionally farmed landscape type with scattered settlements called "kopanice". This type of agricultural landscape is rare because it located only in mountainous areas of Slovakia which were settled relatively later (14th-18th centuries) in comparison with other settlements due to harsh natural conditions. Mr. Bagar bought the farm in 2005. The land in the surroundings was abandoned and overgrown with woody plants. The farmhouse required vast renovation. Currently, after revitalizing interventions the farm attracts many tourists, and thanks to marketing also foreign enjoying their time in the nearby world-known spa of Piešťany stop by. Domestic animals moving freely among visitors and grazing surrounding pastures create an authentic atmosphere of the vital traditionally farmed landscape. The farm is family-friendly with attraction suitable for children, like real tractor driving or a treasure hunting competition, tasting of products (especially, dairy products from Jersey Milk with a fat content of 6%) or barbecue. Panoramic view of the valley of Pustoveský stream with scattered settlement – kopanice - and fruit trees differently coloured in the autumn charm away every visitor.
4. Multifunctional/sustainable farming and European Agricultural Landscapes (EAL)
The farm is located on the borders of the valuable cultural landscape of Myjavské kopanice and the Little Carpathians Protected Landscape Area, thus making the farm an "entrance gate" to both of these interesting landscapes. The farmer is aware of the fact that his activities help the landscape.His knowledge would be distributed to other farmers in order to help them establish small and family-run multi-purpose farms on the landscape with scattered settlements. This kind of the landscape is particularly suitable for such an entrepreneurship. Multi-purpose farming would help with solving the high rate of unemployment in the region. The region features many abandoned or only occasionally used homesteads where agricultural plots are overgrown by shrubs or trees. One of the main obstacles the farmer has faced since the beginning is a labour shortage and resident’s lack of interest in working at the farm. Despite the above, the owner recommends caution when choosing a farm employee. It follows that relevant bodies should pay attention to the education of prospect employees as well as economic stimuli.
“Farmers working in agriculture can enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Such an atmosphere cannot be found in cities. Nevertheless, farming is a hard work which is more like a hobby than a profession occupation.”
5. Considerations, skills/competences involved and queries/questions
Mr. Bagar has been developing his multi-purpose activities since 2005. His own experiences and knowledge shared with other farmers confirmed that low income slows down the development of other activities that would be offered to visitors. Under the current legislative and economic rules a farmer shall be reconciled with the fact to cover financial loss of primary agricultural production from another services provided by the farm or from other, better payed job. The farmer uses both options. However, multi-purpose nature of the farm is the best solution in the given landscape type. Extensively used pastoral land with domestic animals grazing pastures is characteristic for the region and corresponds to the ecological quality of the agricultural landscape rich in biodiversity. The presence of scattered settlement brings a potential for the establishment of a network of several farms which may closely cooperate and use the values of the landscape to attract tourists (natural trails, cycling paths, - products sale or exchange, rental services, and other services). Agritourism development could help farms to become self-sufficient and slow down the rural population decrease and increase employment. As we can see in this case, the TV reality show increased popularity of the farm and brought along new visitors. Considering the high recreational potential of the landscape, multi-purpose activities carried out by the farmer and the farm popularity, this farm is a regional hotspot in terms of recreational infrastructure. The strong point is its national-wide popularisation. The visual appearance of a farmland with scattered settlements thus became popular in other parts of Slovakia as well and implementation of knowledge on landscape values in relation to a high quality farm products would bring more money to the regions with the same or similar landscape type.
Despite the difficult economic situation on the farm, it is not advisable to increase prices of domestic and regional products. It is very important to say that high quality of farm products would be available to everybody, not only those with higher income. The traditionally used farmland with pastures and scattered settlements – “kopanice” is particularly suitable for less intensive agricultural and recreational activities. Under such conditions the farm provides a relaxing space for families and individuals who want to escape a fast-paced life for a while. Farmer's friendly and spontaneous approach to visitors makes the place feel like home – something visitors appreciate and the reason why they come back. Thanks to the TV show the region gained popularity and prepared the ground for many agritourism opportunities in the future. However, more people mean more noise and those who are seeking for a quiet place to relax may be disturbed by other visitors.
Do you have any idea how a farmer could motivate residents living in the countryside to work on the farm?
Do you think that adequate maintenance and attention given to the farmland by farmers can be done without the financial aid from the European Union?