Tuesday night we stayed in Chisinau with Valarie and Maricica Belous, with whom we have become great friends. We plan to stay with them Wednesday night also. Maricica had made a great, fancy cake in my honor, and we enjoying sharing it with them. Valarie had also found a contact that has a company that is working with greenhouses, irrigation, fertilizer, seeds and equipment. We were able to make an appointment to visit them on Wednesday morning.
Wednesday morning we met with Teodor Botan, the founder and director of Agrodor, the man Valarie put us in contact with. We had an outstanding meeting with him. He is building a company that brings together many facets of agriculture into one entity. As we talked, we quickly connected, as he realized that I have done something similar in the US.
Agrodor already has many products that we will be able to use registered in the country of Moldova, and we talked about things that I am able to bring that are needed to do a better job of production. I will send him a list and description of products, so that Teodor can get permission for me to bring small samples of these products and seeds into the country to do some trials with. Teodor has a very good business sense, a vision of growing his company, and understands a lot of the needs to improve agriculture in Moldova.
Teodor was also very interested in the concept of No-Till and cover crop farming. I will be sending him some technical information, and we also made arrangements to meet with one of his larger clients who have expressed interest in this concept. In their building they have a very nice room for holding conferences. He invited me to come and do a seminar, sharing new ideas and concepts for his clients to learn about this winter. I will be meeting with him the next time I come to Moldova to work on plans for such a seminar. Up to this point, this is the most promising connection I have made to meet the vision of bringing much needed technology to Moldova.
It started to rain as we left that meeting to drive to Dancu, were we had hoped to pull soil samples. Dumitru has about half of the corn planted, but there has been too much rain the last several days to finish. The wheat cover crop is terminating nicely, and the sunflowers have germinated, and will soon emerge. We decided that the soil samples could wait until I am able to get back later this year, as we can’t do anything about adjusting fertility at this point anyway.
Jordan went with the youth to distribute meals to the elderly in the village while Michael and I spent the afternoon with Dumitru. At 5:00 pm there was a youth meeting in the community center where they showed the Jonah video from Sight & Sound. Jordan was able to talk about the production of the show, as he was working at that time for Sight & Sound as an animal handler. He also was able to put new pegs and strings on the guitar that is used by the youth group.
We ended up staying for the evening service at church, and of course, 5 minutes before the service started I was asked to bring a word. I didn’t have my Bible, and there were no English Bibles in the village, but I had a few notes on my phone and was able to give a short – 15 minute – message. We had supper with Dumitru and Catrina afterwards, so it was 11 pm before we got back to Chisinau.
Thursday morning we drove to Iablona and met with Nicholai Curecheru. Corn was planted early in the week, both the 6-hectare No-Till, cover crop plot and a 6-hectare conventional field. The No-Till field was sprayed 2 weeks ago to kill the wheat cover crop, and the control was excellent. The ground was a little hard to plant into with their planter, and they ended up having 3 guys stand on the planter to be able to get the seed in the ground. There were a few places where the seed didn’t get into the soil, but with the good rains this week, germination should be very good.
Nicholai also planted 2.7 hectares of watermelons, a little bit less than last year. Plans are to use the same fertility program that worked so well for them last year. For the corn, he was able to get some Pioneer seed at the same price as the native seeds, as the government had a program to subsidize the planting of quality seeds. That program reduced the price of the Pioneer seed by 2 ½ times, a good deal for him.
The pigs are doing very well, and they have over 80 at the moment. Prices are very good right now – $100 for a 50 lb. piglet. Because of the success of the No-Till project last year, Nicholai had plenty of feed and held on to more of his pigs last year when the prices were low, so now he has an abundant supply, more than enough to feed the residents of the home, and plenty to sell at a time when others don’t have because they didn’t have an adequate supply of feed.
The door and window business is thriving, and Nicholai is starting to develop a dealer network, in addition to his own installation business. He took advantage of a government program for young people to start businesses by having his son and daughter-in-law start a new business that was able to purchase new equipment that makes the manufacturing of the doors and windows much more efficient, increasing both quality and quantity. And because of the success of that business, Nicholai is able to invest in improvements to the farm and to the buildings at the center.
After eating lunch at the old peoples home, we met with Slavic Aftinescu, the director of the home. The new addition that allow for 15 more residents has been completed, but there needs to be some upgrades to some of the utilities in order to get an occupancy permit. They are also hoping to soon launch a water project – drilling a deep well, installing tanks and filters, to supply not only the home, but also a large portion of the village. The water supply from the village is of poor quality and inconsistent availability.
They are also installing wood furnaces in order to insure constant heat, as there is considerable concern about the possibility of Russia shutting of the gas supply to Moldova. Michael was able to give some guidance about the heating system, making the furnaces more efficient and getting more heat from less wood. I also gave Slavic the blessing to make use of the windmill tower that has not been able to be used for their water supply. It will remove an eyesore from in front of an upgraded facility, and the material can be put to good use in other ways.
Nicholai then took us to another place in the village to show us how many pigs are being raised in Moldova. A neighbor complained about the smell from Nicholai’s pigs, and when a person from the ecological agency came to investigate, Nicholai showed him how clean and comfortable his pigs were in comparison to others, how he cleans the pens each day, and doesn’t accumulate more than a few days manure before taking it to the fields. He also took the agent to the town dump, right across the street from houses on the outskirts of the village, and asked about that smell, and the affect on the neighbors. The agent left satisfied with what Nicholai was doing, and a few days later the mayor started to clean up the town dump.
That afternoon we left Iablona and drove to the opposite end of the country to Michaels house, making several stops along the way to pick up and deliver things to various people along the way. We made it back to Michaels about 8:30 pm, had a late supper and prepared for an early start to the next day.
Friday morning we met Teodor Botan from Agrodor in the city of Comrat, and drove to the village of Cico Midan to meet with one of his large clients. Feodor Ianioglo farms 3,500 hectares – 8,645 acres – of wheat, barley, sunflowers, and is starting some vineyards and orchards of apples, cherries, plums and peaches. He is a very progressive farmer, starting to implement No-Till practices and is starting to use cover crops. He even smuggled some radish seeds into Moldova from Ukraine, and has seen huge benefits to improving the soil.
He also has a great understanding of improving soil health, soil biology and of working with nature instead of continuing practices that harmful and not profitable long-term. He also has an excellent understanding of what it takes to improve Moldova’s agricultural system. He stated that farmers don’t need to be just given money, but to be taught the proper techniques to change their old ways of doing things, that people’s minds need to be changed. It wasn’t long into our conversation that we quickly identified each other as kindred spirits, and I had a great time sharing No-Till and Cover Crop presentations that he was so hungry to hear about.
Feodor is getting outstanding production because he understands how things work together, and he is using the limited tools that are available to him. He told how John Deere brought a combine to harvest his barley last year, and the driver thought his machine was broken just 500 meters into the field, because his monitor was showing 7.8 tons – 145 bushels per acre – and the bin in the combine was full. They had guaranteed him that they would be able to harvest 40 hectares per day with this machine, but were actually able to only harvest 25 because his yields were so great. His average on 200+ acres was 140 bu. compared to 60-80 bus in the neighborhood.
He showed me his field of radishes that he planted to produce his own seed. As we talked about what he was doing and wanted to do, we developed some cover crop mixes for his farm, and he also ordered 1 ton of Tillage Radish to plant this summer and fall. He also wants to get some of Cover Crop Solutions other products and mixes to do some experimenting for this part of the world. We are already planning how to have a field day and do seminars for other producers in the area.
I asked him what his background was, what did he do before he started farming, what contributed to his quest for knowledge. He said he was a Ph. D, working in the Russian Space program before entering the banking business. So he has an inquisitive mind, a scientific background, and understands how to run a business. Before we finally left, he said that this was a day of celebration, to meet with someone who understood what he was trying to accomplish, and who was able to help teach him the technologies that would help him in achieving his goals. I was blessed to be able to meet such a man, knowing that it was truly a Divine Appointment.
We made plans on how to move forward the relationship forming with both Teodor and Feodor. They expressed the interest in being the people we focus on in developing the No-Till, Cover Crop methods, and I assured them that they indeed were the caliber of people we were searching for, and that I would continue to develop that relationship.
Friday evening we again went to the village of Vladimirovca, where the church of Vadul Lui Isac is starting a work to plant a church. We met at the community center, and Jordan once again used his guitar playing to connect with the young people. He formed a particularly close bond with Petru Nicholai, a young unbeliever who had invited friends to come, after hearing Jordan last week. Petru has been coming to the meetings even though he argues strongly against the idea that there is a God. It was good to see how Jordan was able to reach him thru music, and I believe God will use that connection to reach Petru. They exchanged contact information, and I know that they will stay in touch.
Another late supper, and the chance to sleep in on Saturday. I was able to catch up on writing and emails, Jordan went off to play guitar with some of the youth, and one of the older men in the church who also plays piano. They spent some time together, speaking the language of Music. Michael and I met with Andrei Ciobanu to talk about the possibility of having someone from the US stay in the village to work with the greenhouse growers, and home gardeners. I see this as one of the most effective ways of improving the lot of many people in Moldova. There are many ways to improve their production and profitability, and it takes someone who is able to be here for an extended period of time to demonstrate how to implement these techniques.
Sunday morning we went to Brinza where Jordan played the guitar and I brought the morning message. Their church begins and ends an hour earlier than Vadul Lui Isac, so we were able to stop there on our way home and meet with our many friends there. After another of Angelica’s great lunches, we were able to get some rest, and then Jordan went off at 4 pm to play guitar with a number of people at the church to practice for the evening service.
I finally got the night off, and it was nice to be able to just sit in the service and enjoy it without having to be thinking about what I was going to say. Jordan played 2 pieces with Dumitru, a gifted pianist, and they had practiced together only a little bit, and they had the place rockin’. After each piece, the congregation clapped and cheered, the Moldovan Baptist equivalent of the Pope Break-Dancing.
After church we went to Alex, Elena and Ema Pascal’s house for a delicious supper. Pastor Andrei, who is Elena’s brother, was also with us, and we had a great time visiting, talking about agriculture, the differences between Moldova and America. Jordan played a little guitar for the group, and also played while Ema and Adriana sang. He has been getting used to being put on the spot, often handed a guitar that is not very good, and making the best of it. We didn’t get home until midnight.
Monday morning Michael and I traveled to Ursoaia to visit Petru Pascal, Alex’s brother. We met him last March, and I have visited with him a couple of times. When Jim and Hamilton were along in March this year, we were able to spend a little time with him, talking about growing corn and raising hogs. We looked at a number of corn, sunflower and wheat fields. He planted Pioneer seeds this year, and he is doing a good job with the equipment he has. A better corn planter would probably be his biggest asset right now. We discussed fertilizer rates and methods of application, along with the timing of herbicide applications.
Petru is certainly one we want to continue to stay in contact. I told him about upcoming and potential seminars, and he wants to make sure that he is able to attend. I also made plans to visit him on my next visit. We didn’t have much opportunity to talk about animal production, as this is an extremely busy time. He also is building a storage facility for his grape production. Currently farming 120-hectares of corn, 120-hectare sunflowers, 100-hectare vineyard, 85-hectare wheat and 35-hectare of barley.
In the evening Michael and I visited Ion one last time. I bought a liter of foliar boron for him to experiment with on his potatoes, trying to control over application of manure on that plot. We will see if it is effective, and if it is, it will be a welcome addition to many people who see abundant vegetative growth with small potatoes underneath. Hopefully we have a good product that will do the job.
Jordan had hoped to spend some time with Stefan Hadjiu in the evening, learning Russian Folk Music. He was busy harvesting potatoes, so Jordan wasn’t able to play guitar with him, but told Stefan that now he has a reason to come back to Moldova. We then had one last time with the youth, where I encouraged them to ask any question they wanted to. They asked questions about how young people in Moldova should look at the future, deciding whether or not to be looking to leave the country; how do you know what God wants for your life, those types of questions. They were questions that do not have a quick and easy answer, but are questions that everyone asks at some point in their life, and especially young people.
I shared my personal journey, of how I came to know what God called me to do, and encouraged them to dream big, dare God to be big enough to amazing things with their lives, but to also find contentment in where they are at the moment, to realize that having possessions does not bring real happiness and satisfaction. It was a good time, and I asked if they weren’t tired of having me speak to them 3 weeks in a row. I think they enjoyed the departure from their normal routine, and I certainly enjoyed being with them.
Jordan played 4 pieces for them, daring to do a couple of pieces that he hadn’t played before because he didn’t trust the guitar to hold up to his performance, and he didn’t have the feel for that particular guitar that he does for his own. It held up to his performance, no strings breaking, and sounding quite nice to those of us who didn’t know subtle difference that mean a lot to a musician.
At the end of the evening a number of the young people gathered around Jordan to have him show them more about his technique and style. One girl in particular has been trying out his methods, and he has spent a number of times teaching her. She is a very quick learner, and is picking it up nicely. She expresses frustration because her hands aren’t big enough for some of the complicated chords and rapid finger movements that has taken Jordan years to master. They also realized why Jordan changes strings every 2 weeks instead of every 3 years. So a supply of guitar strings will be coming with us in future trips.
It was after 11;00 pm till we left the Youth Meeting, coming back to Michael’s for a late supper. It was after midnight till we got to bed, and we need to have a fairly early start to travel to Chisinau for the flight home. As always happens on these trips, we accomplish many things, and there are many more that we would like to do yet, but can’t fit in to our schedule.
So we are anxious to get back home, and are already anticipating our return.
Thanks for your thoughts and prayers for us on this trip. Continue to pray that God would open doors, and that we can find those people who He wants us to work with and minister to.
Leslie D. Yoder