Pro Ratatouille is a community based organic agricultural program for disadvantaged Roma and non-Roma people, which also aims to spread sustainable developmental models among small village communities. Community based agriculture helps to develop community awareness, lowers unemployment, fights malnourishment and introduces a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Combined, these effects positively influence the worldview of the participants and show a livable alternative to younger generations. The program also helps to fight the prejudices towards the Roma minority by enabling Roma and non-Roma members of a community to work together towards a common goal.
The Pro Ratatouille program was started in 2012, and as of 2014 it is running in three villages in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county in the east of Hungary. In practice, the village programs include complex adult education, employment, nutritional and community building activities. The program was developed in the spirit of agro-based social business. This approach emphasizes the importance of agriculture based rural development, fair distribution of the goods produced, community based innovation and business development.
The market for sustainably produced, local organic food is growing all across Europe, and the need for these products is also expanding in Hungary. Since organic and small scale plant production is labor intensive, we hope to connect the need for quality products with creating jobs and fighting poverty. In the most disadvantaged regions of Hungary, unemployment and poverty are on the rise, along with the spreading of social tension among different social and ethnic groups. It is very important for these rural communities to create job local opportunities, which are adapted to local conditions and needs and aid self-sufficiency on the individual and on the community level.
The aim of the program is to start and maintain sustainable, small scale agricultural projects in cooperation with the local government and the involvement of disadvantaged Roma and non-Roma members of the community. After meeting the needs of the producers and the villages, it is our aim to introduce a fair-trade brand with emphasis on quality, solidarity and sustainability. The development of the brand would enable the connection of producers through a social business inspired company that would produce its profits with environmental and social awareness.
The two main methods used in the program are non-formal adult education and empowerment work. These methods serve the following goals:
• Regular participation, acquisition of the skills required for regular work;
• Creating a sense of responsibility;
• Creating the basics for inner control and planning for positive change;
• Happiness related to work-activities, pride
• Sensing the advantages of cooperation;
• Learning the basics of community based development;
• Creating life plans;
• Creating the ability to acknowledge positive life changes
The participants of the program are disadvantaged individuals. Regardless of ethnic identity, employment status, age and gender, anyone can join the program who wishes to acquire the skills needed for organic vegetable production and who wants to support their families with healthy vegetable week after week. Roma and non-Roma, unemployed and those with a job, retired people, mothers with young children and youth are all represented in the program.
Professional and financial background
Butterfly Development finances the Pro Ratatouille program through grants from:
• Ministry of Human Capacities of Hungary
• ERSTE Foundation
Development of adult education and community building components are the innovations of Butterfly Development.
Professional supervision of vegetable production is supervised by the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture. Education materials for vegetable production were developed by the Institute of Natural Resource and Landscape Management of Szent István University, Hungary with the supervision of Matthew Hayes and Imre Tirczka.