Just five years ago, in the tiny region of Ormansag, Hungary, bordering Croatia, Tamas Lantos used his background in agricultural engineering and sociology and his love for the land to found the Ormansag Foundation. A non-governmental organization, the Foundation promotes sustainable development projects in the area involving local populations at all stages of planning and implementation.
Today, as the Foundation's President, Lantos leads six permanent staff and a team of volunteers in projects concerning organic farming, water resource protection and the preservation of the area's natural and cultural heritage. Through the Organic Agriculture Reference Programme, the Foundation operates a school farm and provides training and equipment to local farmers. This project helps local farms compete in the marketplace using conventional methods.
The Foundation is also introducing pollution prevention technologies and setting up a transborder nature park along the banks of the Drava River which will encompass 46 villages scattered between pastures and wetlands. To encourage the preservation of Ormansag's cultural heritage, Lantos has directed the Foundation in its work with the local Gypsy population to enlist their support in sustainable development. Projects have included courses in traditional Gypsy crafts and organic gardening as well as cultural exchanges with Gypsy populations living abroad.
In 1993 the Foundation was awarded the Hungarian Prize for Regional Action.
Ormansag Foundation, Arany Janos u. 4, 7967 Dravafok, Hungary; Tel./fax 011-36-73-352 333. Unpaid gardening work in orchard, herb garden, etc. at sustainable farm. Also coordinates volunteers for neighboring farms. Free accommodations. Minimum stay 1 week.