Ananda Drava, New Master Unit in Hungary

By Didi Ananda Jyotishrii

One and a half years ago we laid the foundation for a Master Unit at the Southern border of Hungary. Regarding the site, we purposefully decided on a backward and disadvantaged region. We have found the future home for our ecovillage in Vejti village. At present we have two lots 200m from each-other, and both have 4000 m2 land. So we already have 0.8 ha land with 5 buildings on it. The bigger house has 4 rooms, comfortable enough for total 17 people, a large kitchen, a sweet porch and a bathroom (not ready yet). At present this is the only building in livable condition. The smaller house has two rooms, small kitchen and bathroom and will be renovated in the coming months. We have received 30 000 Euro government grant for its reconstructive renovation as the building has folk-architectural values. Its original look will be restored as well as the whole building renovated in all aspects. Both lots have a huge barn, and on the bigger lot there is a shed that could be used as summer accommodations after renovation. We are at a 2-km-walk from River Dráva. Drava is originally a samskrta word meaning swift flow. So Ananda Drava means Blissful Flow. There is also a fishing lake about a kilometer away with a beaver family. Natural forests still exist in patches as well as all along the river. The village is quiet with very fresh air. At night, in front of our building, under clear starry sky, we can hear jackals howling and – in their mating season – deer roaring.

River Drava is the borderline between Hungary and Croatia, and it used to be part of the Iron Curtain. Before the Iron Curtain was pulled up, this region – called Ormánság – was thriving as it had a wonderful agriculture and fishing potential and there was lively trading with the nearby towns of (present) Croatia. However, during the last hundred years this area became impoverished, lacking job opportunities, and the population is dwindling. Vejti village used to have more than 500 inhabitants, but by now only 140 people live here.Many of them are elderly, living alone in properties that used to house an extended family, all kinds of farm animals, a big vegetable garden and orchard. Sadly, orchards have been mostly cut down for firewood. The ratio of Roma population has increased many-fold, the reason being that the Roma minority in Hungary is severely discriminated against and they are being “pushed out” to marginalised areas.

Ormánság means an area with elevations: plateaus that are a few meters higher than the surrounding moorland. Centuries before, Ormánság was the flood area of meandering River Drava, with settlements and gardens on the elevations only. Then the river was “regulated” in order to gain more agricultural lands. Since then the water table is sinking and the original incredible biological diversity is decreasing. Our mission is to reverse this trend. In this spirit the Hungarian name of our project is Orom Öröm meaning Joy on the Elevation. (The motif for our logo is taken from a ca. 250 years old painting of a nearby church.) We aim to attract young, eco-minded families to Vejti and the surrounding villages and facilitate the creation of a cooperating network. The area offers opportunity for establishing an ecovillage in the most real sense that is away from inhabited areas, surrounded by nature. We envision expanding in that direction.

Furthermore, our mission is to help Roma families develop skills for self-sufficiency. To serve all children in Ormánság (about 35 settlements, mostly with 100-300 inhabitants), we are planning to establish a mobile eco-education project as well as hold summer camps. The Master Unit – beside being a farm and retreat center – will also serve as a wellness center and provide rooms for vegetarian tourists.

Opportunities for special services for the surrounding environment: join other eco-groups in fighting for the re-establishment of wetland areas; teach farmers about no-tilling agricultural methods; teach locals composting and other organic gardening methods as well as ways of utilizing herbs growing wild; cultivate still existing orchards that have “gone wild” and plant new orchards with indigenous varieties of fruits.

Last year we had the pleasure to employ in the renovation of the main building the heads of two Ukrainian refugee families (both having three children). They did high quality work! We were happy to be able to provide livelihood for a few months to ten persons right after they fled their homeland. We have also received four volunteers so far, who spent a few weeks, one month and five months respectively in the project. Ananda Drava welcomes volunteers, preferably for a minimum of three weeks. A fundraising campaign is underway for the renovation of the roofs, making bathrooms, heating system and the necessary start-up investment for gardening.

If you would like to join any of these activities, please contact Didi Ananda Jyotishrii at or +36 30 8228102 Tel/Whatsapp/Telegram