In the evening of June 18, a strong hurricane swept over the Myadel Region. The results were really very sad; one of those were the collapsed trees in the old Starzhinskiye – Sulistrovskiye Park.
Furious wind and downpour caused a lot of trouble in the village of Komarovo, destroying private sheds, garages, workshops and private houses. In the evening of the next day we found the following scene:
They have already started to clean off the consequences of the hurricane.
The local resident Ilya Voitekhovich says:
– The hurricane passed through the area in a strip uprooting old trees in the Park. As they fell, they also took with them many of the young ones, which were still strong. My heart bleeds when I look at this. For the past 3-4 years we have been improving and developing this Park as volunteers, because our cafe and shop are next to it. And before our parents used to do the same.
We clean the thickets, mow the grass, and plant something. In the future it is planned to improve the part of the Park located behind the stadium, and also to put the overgrown pond in a better order. Once it had clean water, they kept carp here during the spawning period, raised young fish, and released it into a large pond.
We also plan to equip the beach and cultivate the Park. However, the last day of work of the excavator cost us 900 rubles, which is big money for us. There is a lot of work like this, you can't do it manually. While there are no funds for this, we hope very much for the sponsorship of people from Komarovo, and for the help of volunteers!
Pavel Voitekhovich, the elder brother of Ilya, is a director of the company "A60", which owns a bakery, shop and cafe in Komarovo. He thinks how to put the fallen trees to some use, and finally together we come with an idea of leaving a part of the broken poplar as a visual illustration of the power of the elements on June 18. And the other part of the tree will serve as a material for a sculpture in another photo zone.
Then Ilya continues:
– In the old Park there is a well which I tried to clean, when I was a schoolboy. Something was said about its rich history. And in Wikipedia we found information about the king Batory and his well in the Komarovsky forests: "in the forest near the village of Komarovo in the Svirsky village Council, there is a well that was dug by order of the king. In 1855 the famous traveler and local historian Adam Kirkor recorded a legend about a well called the Royal Well, which was preserved in the Komarovsky forest located within the borders of the possessions of Napoleon Khominsky. King Stefan Batory ordered to dig this well in 1579, when he stayed neighboring town of Svir going to take a battle march to Polotsk against the troops of the Russian Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich (Ivan the Terrible). Adam Kirkor noted that the well was called used to be called “Batorinsky”.
And if we restore this well properly, I think we can create a real tourist highlight!
Eduard Voitekhovich, the father of Pavel and Ilya joins the conversation:
– The idea of developing the village of Komarovo, by the way, came from the Park. In the early 2000s, it was in a terrible state. And the very first project which was carried out by the public organization "Women for the revival of the Naroch region" started with a $ 500 grant allocated for the Park. It seems to be a ridiculous amount, but for us it was a great happiness to buy seedlings of rare plants in the Botanical Garden. We created alpine hills and cleaned the area up. Not everyone understood and appreciated our impulses, sometimes I had to hear: "He’d rather use this money to buy a wheel for a tractor!”
In 2005 the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of the Republic of Belarus announced a competition for the best maintenance of arboretum, in which we won. As a bonus they gave us quite decent money, which was also spent for the Park.
The next alternative energy project (launching a mini-hydroelectric power station on a reservoir, installing solar panels and lighting in the Park) we included the plan to purchase water lilies (Nymphaeum) for the pond. At the same time the pond was cultivated, its banks were cleaned and flowers were planted. Unfortunately, not all of them overwintered successfully, today there are much fewer plants are here. But they still delight the locals and visitors of Komarovo with bright colors.
It would seem that the Park does not bring any money, why should we pay so much attention to it?! But look: by working the like-minded people became closer to each other. And the public organization inspired people to create a local community. Now people has moved up to a higher level of communication: they discuss not just everyday issues, but more exalted things as well.
And next year, during the Republican Environmental Forum in Naroch, the Ministry of Natural Resources chose our arboretum as the central display point for the forum delegates. While the event was developed, the Government invested a billion Belarusian rubles in the infrastructure of Komarovo! Streets were paved and street lighting was installed. Without the Park, we would not have received this investment! The forum demonstrated the economy, private business development based on the principles of sustainable development, preserving the environment, etc.
Yes, the program for sustainable development of the village of Komarovo appeared even when the country had never heard of it!
Ten years afterwards there were no major projects where the Park was involved, and funding dried up.
Although in 2006, the Park began to host the festival "Komarovo – the wheel of days", which was also initiated by us. Craftsmen from all over Belarus came to the fair, and the picturesque landscapes inspired everyone: both sellers and buyers.
“Komarovo – the wheel of days” festival, 2016.
This year the event took a time-out due to the difficult epidemiological situation.
Today our cafe is located in the former barn of the count's estate. Before that there used to be a warehouse, a retail outlet. After the renovation we opened the first bakery with a Western-style store that sold only bread and bakery, but it was not profitable. We had to take another way, and to expand the product range – and the store became a more profitable business than the bakery.
In one wing of the building there is a cafe with an open verandah, in the second wing there’s a shop where fresh bread is delivered. And along with bread and rolls, people put other products in their baskets. The range of products has increased, the outlet has become very popular in the region and will soon move to the building of a former cafe, which has been remained devastated for many years. We are currently restoring this building, and we hope that the first customers will come to the new store in the fall.
The house where the servants of the old days’ landlords were living once upon a time, is a bakery "Komarovo" now, and we’re planning to open a small hotel.
We are expanding the kitchen of the existing cafe, opening a banquet hall for family events on the site of the store, and we want to put billiards and some other board games on the second floor to turn it into a leisure center for local youth. There is also an idea to make an inexpensive lunch menu for local workers.
Since we are developing a private business in Komarovo, we consider it our duty to invest part of the earned money in preserving the ancient Park. Because it is located on a popular tourist route, the highlight of which are the Blue Lakes. We are well aware that if tourists visit the Park, they will definitely go to the store and drink a Cup of coffee in our cafe. Thus nature and its beauty can bring an additional profit!
Estate of Kamenskih-Starzinski-Sulistrowski, which is located in the centre of the historic Park, also needs care and restoration. But this is a separate topic…