Each of the locations included in the Subpannonic project can boast of natural beauty that has the potential to attract many tourists. However, these are often areas that are not very well-known among tourists. How to kickstart tourism in such regions?
During the first weekend of September, we went together with farmers and stakeholders from the Subpannonic project and the Krajina živá programme in search of inspiration to the Hont region. During a two-day workshop, along with interested locals from Zemplín, Gemer, Stredné Považie, and the Bratislava region, we visited the Black Mulberry Festival and the Farmer’s Market in Bátovce.
The Black Mulberry Festival has become an integral part of Hont’s cultural tradition. Its mission is to raise awareness about the unique tree – the black mulberry, which supposedly grows in the largest numbers in Central Europe around the village of Bátovce and neighboring villages. Every year, the festival is hosted by a different village in the region. This year, the festival took place in the village of Žemberovce. Festival visitors can not only take an excursion along the Black Mulberry Nature Trail but also visit the local market. There, we found exclusively local products: various black mulberry products (from syrups and ice cream to cakes), local gastronomic specialties such as párance, natural cosmetics, or wool products.
The Farmer’s Market in Bátovce welcomes tourists every week on Saturdays. What makes this market unique is that it was the first in Slovakia and the eastern bloc to join the international network of Marcati della Terra (Earth Markets). Earth Markets are characterized by local, seasonal, and fresh products. They are produced while respecting the environment, preserving biodiversity, and adhering to traditions. They are offered at fair prices for both producers and consumers. Earth Markets are a place for buying quality food and building community, exchanging experiences, and educating. In a pleasant environment, we tasted various types of cheese, local bread, vegetables, and herbal syrups. We really enjoyed it! In addition, some of us couldn’t resist buying ceramics from a local potter.
The Hont region showed us that natural beauty combined with a quality local offering (from products to services such as restaurants and accommodation) can attract the attention of people willing to travel from great distances. By organizing similar events, regions collectively fulfill cultural, social, economic, and environmental needs while maintaining cultural integrity and ecological processes.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to the organizers of the Black Mulberry Festival and the Farmer’s Market in Bátovce. In addition to being an excellent example of sustainable tourism development, they also took the time to give two lectures to the participants of our workshop. We believe that we repaid them with our lecture – about the activities of the Krajina živá program, Subpannonic project and the importance of pasture restoration in protected areas.
We also thank VUB Bank for their support, and last but not least, the workshop participants themselves! We believe that they have taken away ideas for organizing similar events in their home regions. The lively conversations among participants, not only among themselves but also with local people, attest to this!