POLITICS & ECONOMICS
Family homesteads presented at national conference
25 April 2017
MOSCOW Family Party participants presented the idea of family homesteads at a roundtable conference attended by government, scientific and agricultural officials.
The objectives of the event, held on 16 March 2017, were to involve a wide range of experts, and discuss how to improve land use in the modern world. The conference then prepared proposals for executive authorities.
The roundtable considered how to ensure the availability of agricultural land for primary producers, and how to lift dwelling restrictions on agricultural land for primary producers and their families. It was hosted by the O.N.F under the title, “Improving the use of our country’s land resources”.
The idea of family homesteads was considered within this framework. Representatives described the nature and characteristics of the concept, including what and where to build, and the land area required. They also proposed a new land-use zone — “Family Homestead” — and this proposal was supported by those present.
Officials offered to receive the draft “Law on Family Homesteads” from Family Party representatives, to examine how to implement the program along with federal and state bodies.
Maria Pelmeneva of Family Party, Irkutsk region, presented her speech to the conference:
Good afternoon, dear participants of the round table! I present to your attention the “Family Homesteads of Russia” project. Briefly I will tell you what it is.
A family homestead is a plot of land at least 1 hectare in size, depending on the terrain, with the possibility of building a dwelling and other auxiliary structures. Based on this idea, new settlements have begun to be organized, already for more than a decade now.
This is a new way to arrange people’s lives on the Earth. A settlement of family homesteads has laneways for foot and vehicular access in between each homestead, as well as all the necessary infrastructure for residents to be comfortable.
In a settlement of family homesteads, the spheres of life are diverse. There is culture (crafts, needlework, traditional festivals), education (various training events for people of different ages), and tourism. Still developing is the self-sufficient management of land, growing plants, vegetables, and keeping bees.
Managing the land is built into these people’s way of life. And to manage land, people need dwellings directly on the site.
Family party participants, including Maria Pelmenyova, organize presentations, events and internet communication about the idea of family homesteads. Simplifying procedures for settling under-utilized agricultural land is stimulating new environmentally friendly industries.
Photograph via VKontakte.
In Russia, there are now more than 360 settlements of family homesteads, at different stages of development. There are large settlements – up to 200 families, and there are small – less than 10 families. According to approximate estimates, more than 10,000 Family Homesteads have been created in total. We now have more than 10,000 families who work on their own land, and there are already examples of homesteads where surplus products is grown in the gardens of family homesteads: vegetables, fruit, honey and bee products, and herbs including medicinal herbs.
Many of the homesteads have nurseries, in which, among other things, endangered plants are grown. In almost each settlement there are homesteads with animals or birds. It is also important to note the people who are restoring seed banks, to provide strong seed for themselves and neighbouring settlements. Natural techniques to build the soil allow residents to cultivate fruits and vegetables even on barren and low-fertility lands.
Maria Pelmenyova, of Family Party, Irkutsk region, gave the presentation to a wide-reaching audience.
The Minister for Economic Development, the Minister for Agriculture, members of the All-Russia People’s Front, and members of the scientific community were all in attendance, as well as union officials, community organizations, and members of the public.
Photograph via Maria Pelmenyova
Many settlements are organized in or near abandoned or semi-abandoned villages, restoring them to life. This model of reviving rural areas can be successfully applied throughout the country.
The main criteria for a Family Homestead Settlement:
- the size of the settlement is 150-200 hectares + the area of roads and other infrastructure
- the minimum size of each Homestead is 1 hectare
- the site of the Homestead should be indivisible, transferred only by inheritance,
- residential building maximum 2 storeys + attic or loft, total area no more than 300 sq.m.
- cultivation of ornamental and fruit trees, the presence of forest plantations, and a reservoir / pond
- cultivation of berries, vegetables, melons or other crops, legumes and tubers
- the presence of socio-cultural infrastructure for the village, school, hall, common field, etc.
Most of these settlements are registered as “Dacha Non-commercial Partnership” or “Horticultural Partnership”. Much less often, they are farms or private farms. Each of these forms has its advantages and disadvantages when viewed from the point of view of the family homestead idea.
However, considering law No. 540 “On the approval of categories for the types of permitted use of land plots” (Ministry of Economic Development, 1 September 2014), simply choosing between the different categories is not fundamental to our project, since any of the options is limited by the land-use types provided in the category.
Therefore, we propose:
- that law No. 540 provides the possibility to construct dwellings on agricultural land;
- to supplement the categories for primary agricultural uses with a new code, 1.19 “Family Homestead”, as per the above criteria; and
- to establish the maximum size of residential development on family homesteads to be 5% of the total area.
In conclusion, I think it necessary to note that creating a family homestead is a certain culture of life that leads to the awakening of one’s true citizenship, and their taking responsibility for everything that happens in our country.
It is a process which inevitably increases people’s participation in the various activities, and contributes to the development of a highly moral civil society.
With legislative support for family homesteads, we will create settlements full of proficient, environmentally friendly producers of agricultural goods, and bring life back to our villages.
Thank you for your attention.
15 August 2017: Maria Pelmenyova was contacted for comment. She said, “Hello. Thank you for your feedback and information. Further work is under way. Everything will change for the better.”
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