Villages of Stara planina, conserved in time in a particular way, are hiding one fading life, but as a part of our cultural heritage they give an inspiration and possible solution for modern society, which has no idea or concept how to keep on going further. Through defense of rivers of Stara planina and Serbia I had a privilege to experience, in a most direct way, that spirit of past times in villages of Stara planina. In Dojkinci, while talking inside of a home of Ivica Veljković, a serf of a fairytale village, a story of animal husbandry in mountains started. Our ancestors had a specific way of organization when around Đurđevdan, cattle were taken to the mountain tops. That concept was called “Premlaz” and it represented control of milk production within every individual herd, which in that way made possible equal distribution of cheese produced from fresh milk, therefore peasants achieved possibility to easier complete their everyday tasks, because there was no need for everyone to go to the tops with their herd, and in that way, with a good organization they made an opportunity for an easier mutual labor. That is old-fashioned cooperation. For today’s farmers, especially with small and tiny households, it can represent one of the chances for survival, in a market with less and less possibilities to survive for those who are out of corporation system and cooperative connections.

Topli Do
Topli Do - Photo: Milan Simonović

Inspired by tradition, in Ratkovo, an agricultural collective “Suva Međa” was formed, whose main causes were to start up, through development of rural tourism, production of crafted meat, milk, fruit and vegetables, and that through reconstruction of prehistoric houses our youngest guests can learn about history, archeology, our tradition and culture. Bager bara (Bager puddle) in Ratkovac, an area for recreational fishing, represents basis and opportunity for development of rural tourism and provides possibility for collective to achieve their goals. Premlaz as an inspiration, tradition as a foundation and understatement of all complexity of modern society and their virtues and flaws, give hope that cooperatives in Ratkovo will once again come to life and that they’ll continue their journey on formerly paved paths.

Author: Milan Došen

 

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