UMDIS Mushroom Information Agency continues to tell the story about the bravest in the world Ukrainian mushroom growers.
Inna Dashkovetska for many years grows mushrooms and has her own sell point on the market in Mykolaiv, South of Ukraine. She is extremely positive person. Inna has two farms – 5 rooms in Henichesk, Kherson region (now is under occupation), and 2 rooms in Novy Bug, Mykolaiv region (now is under Ukrainian control).
When the war began, she was on a farm in the Kherson region – so she fell under occupation on the very first day of the war, February 24. She found herself alone there, as her husband was on their second farm.
– I called him, I said: I don’t want mushrooms, I want to leave, – remembers Inna. – I closed the doors of the farm, turned off the light. We tried to go to Ukrainian territory – me and a few other women. Russian tanks were everywhere there, on our way we lived in some strangers` house for four days. We thought we would finaly leave. At first two days we paid for rent – then it was free. But we did not manage to escape – so we returned to the farm.
The last room before the war was loaded by Inna on February 22, the car that brought the compost left the farm on February 23. In total of 4 rooms were loaded.
Inna Dashkovetska is a mushroom grower who managed to grow and sell mushrooms during the Russian occupation.
– There were two rooms ready for picking on February 24. One already ready – the second is about to be. When I returned to the farm on the fifth day, I got busy with mushrooms. What else could I do on the occupied territory? From the four rooms loaded before the war, I only threw away the crop of one room because it rotted on the shelves during the four days of absence. When we returned – I walked around the shelves of the second room and collected the mushroom that were still good. The refrigerator was full before the war. But I managed to find a buyer – he came and gave me 10 hryvnias (0.26 Euro) per kilogram. And sold mushroom for 12 (0.31 Euro) – nearly without margin.
Inna had compost on the shelves in two more rooms – but the amount of casing soil was enough just for one. She covered compost of one room – mushrooms showed pinns. However she did not know what to do with the second room, because the farm was cut off from Ukraine.
– And then a mushroom grower who also lived not far from us in the occupation called me. He has a smaller farm. He says: you have compost, I have a casing – maybe we can cooperate somehow? I didn’t mind – but he called again in a couple of days. He said that he would not risk continuing to work. And I said to him: then I canl buy the casing soil from you!
So the woman grew all her rooms, sold mushrooms, allowed people to continue working on her farm. Mostly the shops bought mushrooms – traders who had taken much mushrooms to the market earlier did not call. Before Easter, Inna managed to sell mushrooms to Kherson (large city, at that time occupied – now is libarated) for 60 hryvnias (1.57 Euro) per kilogram the farm gate price.
Inna spent 2 months and 5 days in the occupation. She finaly managed to leave on April 29.
– We drove our road safely. But in front of us, another cars which were also going to Ukrainian territory came under fire. Civilians who were leaving like us, – says Inna.
On the farm in occupied Henichesk now works the guard. He called and said that while there were many people on the farm, the Russians did not come into, but now they are not afraid and are trying to enter. Inna asked friends to took more valuable things from the farm. Now she is very much looking forward to the fact that the territory will soon be liberated by Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Now Inna Dashkovetska is at home in Mykolaiv, on the territory controlled by Ukraine.
– There, on the occupied territory, they didn’t shoot at us like here. I came home and suddenly my husband shout at me: lie down! I didn’t understand at first. During months I am here I slept in the basement, in the kitchen, in the corridor, – shares Inna.
The woman confidently continues to work – dealі with mushrooms. She loaded two rooms that are 100 kilometers from Mykolaiv. And continue to sell mushrooms on the wholesale market: buys from other mushroom growers.
– Two weeks ago it was good, but this week is bad. Constant air raid alerts, no one is in the mood to buy mushrooms. It’s getting colder. Previous years in November, we hoped for the demand from shops because they are heated and there are sales when it is cold. And now the markets are reducing volumes – and many shops here have been closed for many months. Because it’s war, – says Inna.
This week her selling price on the wholesale market is 55-60 hryvnias (1.44-1.57 Euro) per kilogram of mushrooms. Price goes down.
– Kherson was liberated – but no one is allowed to enter there so far except a humanitarian aid. You can’t send mushrooms there. Ukrainian forces are checking prople left in the city, looking for Russians. I know that some Russians married our women during the occupation and want to stay here. Ukrainian forces are looking for them.
According to Inna, in February, the Russians painted a mark on her farm in Novy Buz. Although there were never any soldiers there and it does not pose any threat. The pickers were afraid to enter the facility – they thought the Russians might shoot it. Then the mark was painted over and everything returned to normal. Inna don’t know what that mark meant.
– Until you’re not here, you won’t understand what the shootings, marks, and occupation are all about, – says Inna. – I visited my relatives in Western Ukraine – even there they don’t understand. They wonder: how do they shoot at people? Yes, it is real. But life goes on.