What happens if an Austrian girl, studying neurobiology, and a Slovenian boy, studying power engineering, meet in Vienna?
They go to Maribor and grow sweet potatoes.
Sounds unusual? Maybe.
But sometimes in life the most outlandish paths, are most worthy to walk.
That was quite a good fit for trying to grow sweet potatoes in Slovenia.
The Slovenian boy (let´s call him Jan, since that is his name) originates from a traditional, family-run agricultural background (so many generations back, that nobody can remember which grand-grand-grand-grandfather bought the first cow or harvested the first field), so he brought a lot of expertise and knowledge about farming and machinery to the table. The Austrian girl (let´s call her Martina, since that is her name) was born and raised in Vienna, but nevertheless had always a very strong penchant for nature as well as scientific projects (like when she relocated field hamster in the middle of Vienna when a new subway was constructed). She brought a lot of thirst of adventure paired with the experience of how to conduct scientific studies to the table.
Because when they started, in 2015,
nobody had a clue how it works in this climatic region. Not them, not anybody else. There was nobody to ask but a lot to figured out.
Sweet potatoes originate from South America.
Compared to the other side of the alps Slovenia is known for its nice and warm weather but compared to South America, making the sweet potatoes feel like home and grow, was quite a piece of work.
Then tried again and again and failed again and again until they figured out how to do it (it appeared that both of them had quite a stubborn constitution).
Nowadays these two successfully cultivate locally grown sweet potatoes on an area of around 5 hectares. And therefore, provide fresh and regional sweet potatoes all over Slovenia. Sweet potatoes which freshly end up on your plate without being shipped all over the planet before. Sweet potatoes which are grown carefully and with passion to achieve great quality instead of just using chemical treatment. Sweet potatoes which are planted and harvested by hand. Sweet potatoes which are valuable.
So it is fair to say those two chose an unusual path.
It is a bumpy one with a lot of sleepless nights, worked through weekends, major uncertainties (like it always is in agriculture, since the weather is something nobody can control) and plenty of hard work. But it is their way. And they are proud of it. Because it is also a path full of adventure, beauty and laughter (especially about all the fails). A path that allows them to experience nature not only from inside through a window but right in the middle of it. And a path that let them create something special and valuable that people can enjoy.