Farming Eastern Europe in Wartime

By Natalie Sarrett

Imagine living in an Eastern European nation on the brink of war in 2022.

As a citizen, you have a family legacy of soldiers on both sides of an age-old civil battle between rivaling ethnic groups. Your family’s economic standing and financial security depend entirely on who wins that month. And the neighborhood you’ve chosen to camp in and side with determines your children’s access to community and education.

Most of your income comes from crop rotations that have survived guerrilla warfare and scorched earth tactics. Brutal winters and expensive firewood make life difficult, especially when you’re responsible for several aging elders.

Now, imagine a team of foreigners showing up in your town.

These strangers plant community gardens in the neighborhoods most central to food deserts, spread seed and fertilizer to grow potatoes, give you firewood and chickens for a sustainable source of food and warmth and ask nothing in return.

Naturally, you’re suspicious at first, but they claim to share an overflow of love from a benevolent god. And you soon learn that it’s not a scam, despite your misgivings, but an act of kindness in a long and harsh life.

We witnessed this reaction again in Eastern Europe last year, as Send Relief agriculture projects began to thrive across the region.

An elderly widow who received help told us, “I don’t know how I would have made it through the winter without selling the eggs from the hen and using the gift of firewood for heating. I want to share my good fortune with my neighbors now!”

Pray for those living in conflict worldwide—that they find peace and hope amid the terrors of war and that our partners respond to the current crises as soon as possible.


Published November 4, 2022

Natalie Sarrett

Natalie Sarrett is a staff writer for Send Relief.