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It is a long way to organic farming – the Fekete Bárány Manufactory in Balatonhenye


  • Bagi László

18/08/2014 2.00am

When we arrive the lady from the neighbourhood points us routinely to the right direction and states the obvious: they our out in the garden somewhere! The mom is feeding the animals, while the three kids are picking strawberries and chasing a couple of kittens – their summer holidays are definitely not going to be about videogames or boredom. It is hard to keep up with Lívia: you’d be wrong to think that you have come to a sleepy little Balaton village where the farmer admires the beautiful organic tomatoes at the back of the garden before placing them carefully into a crate. Everything grows on its own here, you just have to ask Mother Nature for it.

From multi to organic

This was not how the family used to live at all: “Sixteen years ago Tamás was the property developer of a fast food chain, and I was a bookkeeper at a coke company,” says Lívia about the beginnings. By her own admission, she used to spend vacations perusing books on organic gardening, but for the past three years from spring to autumn she’s had no time for such things. Even back then it seemed likely that something was going to turn out of her obsession.

Photo: László Bagi

Pursuing cross-country skiing as a hobby meant that the family had always been close to nature, and Tamás used to dream about them living in a cul-de-sac village. Balatonhenye became just the place for this dream to come true: a strategic location close to the lake, but still far enough from everything so that absolutely nothing interferes with the growth of the sweet strawberries, the hundred different kinds of tomatoes and the rare sorts of lettuce.

Photo: László Bagi

A lot of things are edible, I just don’t know about it yet

Those opting for top-quality restaurants in the Balaton Uplands region will soon be unable to choose a place which does not use the products of Lívia and Tamás. They supply the best joints in the area, and they have a harmonious relationship with all the chefs, who come here to taste, smell and look around, and the end result is always something delicious and extraordinary.

Photo: László Bagi

It works the other way around, too, as Lívia says she learns a lot from them. For example, she often consults the herbalist in Zánka to make sure that she only sells edible produce. We’ve tried something new as well: the green leaves of the valerian under the window are a delicious treat with a taste similar to spring radish. Lívia and Kata Zakar, responsible for dreaming up the creations of Kővirág Restaurant, make up a smashing duo: “I’m mad enough to sell it, and she is made enough to prepare it.”

Photo: László Bagi

Multitasking organic style

If you expect that three kids, the farm, their own customers and the restaurants are all there is to it, think again. Among other things, they will start preserving tomatoes soon, making tomato sauce with vanilla, pizza sauce, ketchup and dried tomatoes. Last year Tamás and Lívia got tired of jumping through hoops trying to sell their artisan products, so they opened a farmers’ market (Biobalaton in Balatonfüred, which we have already discussed here), and a bistro within the market.

Photo: László Bagi

The latter, called Malackrumpli, is also well-known by now, and their Biobalaton movement is gaining popularity, too. If this all is not enough: Tamás is a regular at gastro festivals and organic product fairs, he is an active community builder and guerrilla movement organizer. What motivates him? Sára, Ricsi and Hanna. Looking at the kids, it isn’t hard to tell why the Balaton is the best place for them: Sára cools her feet in the brook, Ricsi gets on his bike and takes empty crates to customers picking produce, and Hanna plays rough with the new kitten like a regular six-year-old.

Photo: László Bagi

I don’t want to be a factory

Photo: László Bagi

Spending a morning here is enough to explain why Sára, the eldest daughter, does not like to eat at the school canteen. Alphabet soup and chocolate cubes have nothing on the zucchini flowers, the chard, the four kinds of oak leaf lettuce, the marinated garlic and the sorrel pesto at home. The Járosi family does not want to become a factory: regardless of EU subsidies or star chefs, they follow individual demand and they know nature controls everything here, so they can only assist with great care. Lívia is not the kind of person who is frightened by a little bit of weed: “Weeding would only take a few minutes, but everything grows here anyway, it just takes little bit more of an effort.”

Photo: László Bagi

Their maximalism is coupled with good-heartedness: the farm, the market and the restaurant all create jobs, the dataller volunteers who come to help out after an eight-hour workday get free fruit and vegetables, and the local schoolchildren often eat organic vegetables as well. They are based here in the Balatonhenye bend, but actually they are the bend themselves. And you can smell the sweet strawberries all the way in Révfülöp.

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