By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Eating is a universal language. People from all walks of life commune over food and set aside their cultural differences over a good meal. But eating isn’t the only activity that transcends time, distance, and language.
Farming can also connect people and bridge gaps caused by language as well as cultural barriers because it is a major reason why people can eat. For families, it can also be a way for them to bond.
The Sibincics, a Filipino-Bosnian-Serb family, enjoys growing their food and following a sustainable lifestyle. They are composed of a newly married couple, Ivy (a Filipina) and Slaven (a Bosnian Serb), and their two daughters, Sofija and Natalija.
Ivy is a journalist by profession while her husband Slaven is an agriculturist whose parents are veteran farmers. Because of Slaven’s profession and upbringing as well as Ivy’s interest in growing food, the Sibincic family eventually started farming in their home located in a village in the European country of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
“Growing our food has kept our family engaged and healthy. People often think that living in the village or the countryside is boring and lonely. However, in our case, it’s the life that we are comfortable with. We are living the life we always wanted because we are deeply in love living sustainably in the countryside and nature,” Ivy said.
As an eco-conscious family, the Sibincics practice natural farming along with other ventures such as livestock raising, beekeeping, and growing heirloom vegetables, native fruit trees, and berries. They also started conserving seeds as a part of their sustainable lifestyle journey.
“We always believed in green or sustainable living and conserving. As a couple, both of us have a strong streak of individuality and an inclination to do things just a little bit differently than the rest of the world,” Ivy shared.
In line with this idea, the family grows, raises, and produces all the food that they consume at home. They only go to the supermarket for toiletries and if only the need arises.
Among the produce that the Sibincic’s grow are a wide variety of native fruit trees, heirloom vegetables, nuts, berries, and annual crops for their year-round food supply that’s spread out over their property. They also share their land with chickens, pigs, cows, and sheep.
But the Sibincic family doesn’t only grow food because of sustainability. They also do this because their family loves farming and sees it as a passion.
“For us, this has become especially important during this time of pandemic when food shortage is possible. We don’t know what the future will bring and we believe that growing and raising your food is always a good idea. Agriculture will always be the biggest part of the survival of humanity,” Ivy said.
The real-life ‘Farmville’
Just last year, the Sibincic’s home was awarded as “The Best Organised Country Home/Village Home.”
According to Ivy, this is a special category that was just included for their municipality’s yearly yard recognition. It is because of this recognition that the Sibnicics’ home became recognized by their community as the “Real Life FarmVille,” in reference to at the famous, agriculture-simulation social network game which involves various aspects of farmland management in its gameplay.
“Little by little, we are moving forward to develop more progress in all parts of our homestead. We live happily in our small farmhouse and our family’s mantra is to live modestly, frugally, healthy, and green. We found happiness in simple living and we hope that one day, we can share our experiences with more people and may others draw inspiration from us,” Ivy said.
Teaching the value of farming
Since both Ivy and Slaven share a passion for farming and leading a sustainable lifestyle, their two daughters are also being taught the value of growing food by turning farming into a family activity.
“At an early age, we are slowly introducing our kids to our life in the village. We believe in teaching young children about the natural world. It will help them appreciate what we have on this beautiful earth and hopefully be the responsible keepers of the future of this planet,” Ivy said.
Presently, the Sibincic’s home consists of a small eco forest, ponds, outdoor playgrounds, and a spring that they use as a water source for drinking and running the household and farm. It also has a growing area for annual crops.
Other than living sustainably, Ivy is also promoting Filipino vegetables in their village as a tribute to her country.
“We also grow a wide variety of food, adding rare Asian vegetables and fruit varieties. Most of the vegetable varieties that we grow are heirlooms and we save the seeds. We have our family seed bank. It is our way of saving biodiversity, preserving the local garden culture of our ancestors, and helping promote food security,” Ivy said.
But their children are not the only ones that they want to teach and inspire about the value of farming. Through their simple way of living, Ivy and Slaven hope that they can inspire other people in their community to take a step, whether big or small, towards a more sustainable lifestyle.
“It’s not about the size but it’s all about doing your little means to make an impact on the world. Always remember, one of the smallest things the average person can do with the greatest positive ecological change is to start within ourselves and our homes,” Ivy said.
The Sibnicics live simply and traditionally in a village located in a four-season European country, where weather conditions are changing from time to time. But with hard work, passion, and dedication, they manage to grow enough food each year to get them through before the next harvest comes around.
Because of their grit and tenacity, they became recognized by their community as an example of a household that knows the value of farming and living by sustainable ideas which they share with others in hopes of inspiring them to go down the same path.
And although they got an award for their efforts, what the couple considers their biggest reward is growing and producing quality food in their yard so they don’t have to rely on grocery stores and markets while being able to provide for their family and friends during abundant harvests.
Visit The Sibincic Family on Facebook for more information.
Photos courtesy of Ivy Sibincic.