Mara Bergmane

Ashoka Fellow
Latvia,
Fellow Since 2003
Upmali Farm

Citation

This profile was prepared when Mara Bergmane was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Through the use of traditional farming practices and the preservation of cultural values regarding health and the environment, Mara is using Latvia's rich past to benefit the health and future well-being of people throughout Central Europe. She is building a network of farms dedicated to organic farming, healthy living, and preventative health care. Her farm system participants will revitalize invaluable traditional practices by incorporating these techniques and values into current farming practices. Mara uses the Health Farm model (and brand name) to attract visitors searching for an ecohealth tourism experience. Although visitors come to enjoy the rural lifestyle, traditional relaxation practices, and good food, they also gain a deeper understanding of nutrition, organic farming, and healthcare. The Health Farms demonstrate healthy diets, food combinations, the benefits of organic food, and healthy lifestyle activities. The tourism experience also encourages a larger awareness of the natural world and the need for environmental protection.
The Health Farm system will work as an integrated supply network to provide a range of useful products. This will allow locals and visitors to access a full range of local organic products, and so raise the demand for locally grown organic foods. The Health Farm system will also offer important benefits to rural communities, where 30 percent of Latvians live. Marginalized rural farmers will gain new possibilities for income sources, helping them compete with large farms and within the context of the EU. Increased incomes will improve living standards in rural areas and provide more local jobs.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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