Take me home!
Learn and Do Contests and Challenges Meet, Discuss, Share Search and Reference  
Learn about the categories Population

- Ecotourism -
Travel to an Organic Farm
with Horses in Poland

(Any time you see a link, you can click it for more information on that word or topic)

A Man and His Horses

My name is Jerzy Trawinski. I was born in 1962 and spent my childhood near the Cistercian abbey in Henrykow in Southwestern Poland. Next to the abbey there was an agricultural school where my parents worked as teachers. The school had its own horseback riding club. I was ten when I first rode a horse together with my brothers.

Horse riding became our passion. I was riding a full-blooded gelded horse that had been withdrawn from the races. We took part in competitions and shows and spent our free time at the stable. This lasted for four years, until my favorite horse fell ill and died. I didn't ride a horse for 18 years after that. It was during those four years that I developed my love for horses and horse riding that is still one of my great passions today.

When I was 14 I left my family and started studying at a gardening school. I wasn't thinking seriously about my education then and, because of that, I didn't finish. Later, I lived and worked in different cities and towns in Poland. The only lasting benefit I retained from school is Kasia, the girl I shared my desk with, who is now my wife.

In order to combine my love for horses with the simple harmony of natural life, I decided to buy a farm and move to the country. For a few months I was searching for a good place which would be in a picturesque area and have enough buildings for horses and enough land. Finally, in 1987, after three months of searching, I succeeded and found an old and broken-down farm in Nowina, 60 km from Wroclaw in southwest Poland. It has 3 buildings and 13 hectares of land. Nowina is a small secluded village located in the Strzelin hills with picturesque forests surrounded by rolling fields.

The farmhouse was very broken down and the garden was a mess. But the barns for horses were in good condition. Our daughter, Ania, was born here. I designed a garden using the artistic part of my soul. I created different designs for planting trees, flowers and making small ponds. I created all this in such a way as to not disturb nature while bringing about greater biodiversity. Apart from our big vegetable garden, we raise black currants organically. We sell part of the currents straight from the plants to our visitors. From the rest, Kasia prepares her homemade jams. We slowly renovated the farmhouse, keeping the old style with its secrets.

After seven years of different activities we were ready to make a childhood dream come true -- to raise horses of our own. The first horse we bought was a full-blooded mare chosen by Kasia. We already had dogs and cats, goats, hens and turkeys. We bought just two horses. The next year we had our first delivery: a lovely colt. Every year new animals were born. Countryside living according to the rhythm of nature became our passion.

Another of my passions is for travelling. I have had the happiness of visiting Africa three times. But, while visiting New York, I was stupefied at the sight of a street seller cutting a chicken into pieces with a plastic knife. I wasn't able to eat this chicken. And on one farm I visited, in front of my eyes I saw hens and chickens living compressed into cages, with food carried to them on a conveyor belt. I understood then how important it is to counteract this madness and have done what I can to do so by providing an example with my own farm.

When the farmhouse and garden were repaired, Jadwiga Lopata appeared with her idea about eco-tourism. Jadwiga is head of the European Centre for Ecological Agriculture and Tourism-Poland (ECEAT-Poland). Its mission is to use ecological tourism to organic farms as a tool to help small farmers make a sometimes difficult transition from conventional agriculture to ecological agriculture. They also encourage humane treatment of animals and many conservation and preservation efforts to help people in the farming regions as well as on the farms themselves.

What's the Problem?

Jadwiga told me:

"More than a million small Polish farms (less than 7 hectares) are threatened by the coming entry of Poland to the European Union, which favors large conventional farms and methods which are harmful to health and the environment, the traditional landscape and biodiversity, and which would uproot small farmers and create further unemployment, migration to unhealthy, overcrowded cities, and destruction of the rural culture and way of life."

"The mission of the European Centre for Ecological Agriculture and Tourism-Poland (ECEAT-Poland) is to use ecological tourism to organic farms as a tool to help small farmers make a sometimes difficult transition from conventional agriculture to ecological agriculture. In this way the farmers benefit financially while environmentally sound practices are spread, and the natural landscape, biodiversity and local culture and traditions are protected and shared with visitors. By working in a cooperative and ecological way small Polish farmers will be able to protect their livelihoods and their traditional way of life in a coming period of difficult economic and social transformation."

I found that it was a great idea and just what I needed. Jadwiga made me aware that I have many things to offer to other people. And I realized that I should share my lifestyle with others, in the hope that they will be inspired in this direction. I realized that we need many people with awaked ecological awareness, who will take care of the places where they are living, and at the same time will also fulfill their dreams. So, in 1997, we decided to cooperate with ECEAT-Poland.

Conversion to Eco-tourism:

At the beginning of our cooperation, ECEAT brought the idea of eco-tourism into our lives and we gave our farm an eco-tourist profile. During the meetings organized by ECEAT, we learned how to change our farm into an ecological farm. We adapted the barn's attic for visitors using natural wood, brought in light through carefully placed, well-insulated skylights we oriented so they would keep our guests in touch with our beautiful surroundings. For campers, we adapted an old storeroom for toilets and showers. And we bought a few more horses. Today we have 14 beautiful, well-trained horses.

After one year of having visitors, I was even more convinced that this was a very good idea for me and my family. The next step was to adapt the old buildings to new technology. We added an ecological cleaning system, an efficient oil heating system, and an inside water system which is designed to conserve water. I learned to conserve water because there is very little good water in Poland. Also, on our farm we introduced an ecological wastewater system called TURBOJET. It's a Belgian technology that provides mechanical oxygenation of waste containers, which accelerates the biological processes.

To our guests we offer horseback riding tours in the picturesque and historical Polish countryside, homemade food, fruit and vegetables from our ecological garden, and a homey atmosphere. We take them on horseback for trips to the old Cistercian monastery in Henrykow which is now a UNESCO monument, to a sanctuary of old beech trees where we can ride for many kilometers on well-tended trails, to scenic towers and old mills. Riding alongside a field, we can reach up and pick my friend's apples, pears and plums.

I design all the experiences to suit the interests and abilities of the riders and take riders together whose abilities are similar so they can all enjoy the experience. I love giving our guests these chances to enjoy our horses and our part of the world. Due to ECEAT, many foreign and Polish guests are now visiting us. During the first year we had 60 visitors from Poland and Holland. In the second year we had over 100 visitors from Poland and over 50 visitors from other countries.

Our guests also have the unique opportunity to stay in a traditional village, that would already be a historical relic in many countries, but is still inhabited. The inhabitants of our village are mostly elderly people. They run their farms traditionally. They hadn't believed that it was possible to attract tourists here. However, now they are convinced, and they are delighted to sell our visitors eggs, milk and other farm products. Some of our villagers have planted decorative plants in front of their houses for the first time in their lives. They now feel that we have something to be proud of, and that the exodus of our village's young people to the city doesn't have to be their only alternative.

A look to the Future:

We hope that in time some other villagers will join the ECEAT project. There are many people who are searching for places like mine to visit. They are attracted to the simple lifestyle in harmony with nature and have my passion for horses. I love to teach people horseback riding and to teach them all the secrets about how to love horses. I also like the idea of small-scale tourism because this way I have real pleasure from my work, and I do not need to exploit horses. I love my horses, my dogs and my sculptures in my garden. And in everything I am doing I have my wife's companionship.

While I want to teach other people to do the same as I have, I never try to convince my neighbors by talking, but only by practical example. So I am happy to observe that my neighbors have started to treat their animals in a better way. They take better care about their dogs, and have learned to give more freedom to their horses when the horses are not working. And my neighbors also have started to renovate their old houses and care more about local traditions. We believe that by attracting visitors to the village and by propagating the idea of organic food we are acting against big companies which degrade the natural environment and which support animal breeding in meat factories, and in this way we help Mother Earth.


Jurek Trawinski
Nowina 657-210 Henrykow
Tel: (48) 090 344 126


European Centre for Ecological and Agricultural Tourism-Poland
Telephone/Fax: 48-33-797114
email: Jadwiga@eceat-pl.most.org.pl

Related case study (on the main Solutions Site): Ecological tourism to organic farms

Activities and Puzzles

No activities for the case study, yet.

top of page



Take me home!