Struggling with nature, Esther and Ashot Grigoryan, residents of Saratak, Shirak Marz, create crops in the rocky soil, they don't complain about difficulties, they do their work silently. And it is here that the "Green Agriculture Initiative in Armenia" project implemented with the co-financing of the European Union and the Austrian Development Cooperation extends their support to them.
Ashot is a military aviation equipment engineer with the rank of aviation major, Esther is a teacher by profession and works in the field of civil society, they have two sons. Based on the needs of the family, the young couple, after long discussions, decided to turn their 2,000 square meter homestead into an apple orchard.
Unaware of horticulture, Ashot began researching agriculture, specifically horticulture, through the Internet and books. Having removed stones from the land plot, he loosened the soil with humus, got seedlings and after a short time the stony land turned into a small garden. According to Esther, although agriculture is a risky business, every risk should be turned into an opportunity. With this principle, the couple expanded and qualitatively improved the garden.
Family worries - housework, child care and upbringing, very busy work as head of the Shirak regional office of the "SHEN" charity NGO did not allow Esther to work with her husband every second. However, as they say, the formula "idea from Esther, work from Ashot" worked unfailingly.
“When you support your husband, the result becomes visible. I think everything is possible, nothing is impossible. It is true, in the beginning, we distributed the harvest to friends and acquaintances because there was no refrigerator to store the food, the harvest could spoil. However, our activities were further expanded thanks to presently one of the largest programs in the field of agriculture in Armenia, the "EU Green Agriculture Initiative (EU-GAIA) in Armenia" project," says Esther.
The couple found out about the project on the Internet, submitted an application for participation, which envisioned expansion of the garden and indicated the importance of installing a refrigerator and a solar panel, and became a beneficiary of the project. After winning the project, Ashot and Esther set about expanding the garden. The 250 apple trees in the garden were increased by another 250. In 2021, with the support of the project, a refrigerator and a solar panel were purchased, which the couple needed so much.
Today, the products of the garden are sold with their own design, logo, and packaging, presenting themselves under the "Arevaigi" brand, which is also one of the achievements of the EU-GAIA project.
Saratak village is located near the Yerevan-Gyumri highway, and that circumstance is the reason for a new idea for Esther, who is engaged in advertising her own garden. One of her further projects is development of agro-tourism in Saratak. According to Esther, this form of tourism gives tourists the opportunity to enjoy ecologically clean food, get to know rural life, and the process of processing and producing agricultural products. With another project, Esther and Ashot intend to establish a production of apple juice, jam, compote under the same "Arevaigi" brand.
“It seems to me that those ideas are successful that are implemented, regardless of this or that support, mainly thanks to hard work and persistence. Our resource is the land and the garden created on it, which will later be expanded with other fruit trees. Then, time itself will dictate the next step, and new ideas will be born that will significantly improve our lives and the community's life in general,” says Esther.