In a suburb outside one of Bosnia’s most polluted industrial towns, a growing army of housewives are fighting for the environment, armed only with compost bins and leftover food.
Near the northeastern town of Tuzla, a center of coal, electricity and chemical extraction, the suburban community of Gornja Tuzla has become an unlikely hotbed of organic fertilizer production.
Inspired by compost enthusiast Nezira Fisekovic, 72, and spurred on by a European Union donation of 80 compost bins, the women of Gornja Tuzla embraced the joy of fertilizing their gardens and orchards with their own natural fodder.
âAll these years I haven’t used any fertilizer other than this,â Fisekovic said, pointing to the black plastic composter in his backyard. A pioneer in this field, Fisekovic has been making his own compost for 17 years.
“The neighbors would borrow it from me, and when they saw how good and healthy it was for the plants, they also started making it themselves.”
Fisekovic proudly says his neighbors always admire his green beans and other vegetables for being so tasty. She also attributes her good health to her natural growth and eating habits.
âI never visit doctors,â she says.
The composting community in Gornja Tuzla started to grow ten years ago thanks to workshops from a local organization, the Center for Ecology and Energy (CEE), and last year’s donation from the project. European âSuburban Recyclingâ accelerated the trend.
Azra Ramic, one of the new converts, uses her garden waste and leftover vegetables and fruits to produce her first batch of compost. She is motivated to produce a natural fertilizer but also to reduce her household waste.
âI hope to have my first household products, from the grass and leaves of my garden, in a month,â she says enthusiastically.
The community is also leading other environmental projects, such as switching to green energy sources in all public institutions and promoting energy efficiency in homes, said community leader Maida Mehmedovic. The local government of Tuzla subsidizes these green interventions.
“We want clean air, clean water, clean soil,” said Mehmedovic, an environmental activist who recently organized the cleanup of the local river bed. âWe filled 10 trucks with garbage in one day,â she said.
Such grassroots enthusiasm is common in Tuzla, where people are very aware of the polluted environment, said Dzemila Agic, director of the CEE.
âPeople act when they need to,â she said. “The Gornja Tuzla community sets a good example. They are enthusiasts and pioneers of good ideas.”
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