Slow Food Supports Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy: 150 Years of Agricultural Research and Education Cannot Be Taken Away!

13 Apr 2016 | English

Slow Food is demanding that the governmental committee reconsider the decision to destroy the university and build-up the historical lands and facilities with housing blocks.

Carlo Petrini, International President of Slow Food, comments:An agricultural center cannot be left without land. Universities play a pivotal role in the effort to maintain and strengthen a sustainable food production in collaboration with food communities. They can support small-scale socially and ecologically sustainable quality food production, as well as actively participating in the education of the civil society. That’s why Slow Food founded in 2004 the University of Gastronomic Sciences and that’s why today we support the university staff and students of the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy in their fight to keep what belongs to over 18,000 students and scholars along with the agricultural biodiversity that belongs to the world.”

Slow Food Moscow is very concerned with the situation. As noted by Olga Rasbash, well-known lawyer, environmentalist and member of Slow Food: “Only five years ago the same federal commission tried to take invaluable test fields away from the Vavilov Institute. The fields contained a rare collection of seeds and plants – Europe’s largest repository. Back then, we managed to organize wide-scale public hearings in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, and together we saved this unique land. We will be fighting now, not only for the preservation of biodiversity but against this obvious disregard for the law and public opinion.”

Government officials have promised “fair” compensation – land in Moscow suburbs, the construction of new dormitories, sports facilities, etc. But Professor Valery Koshelev, economist, head of the Department of Management and Agricultural Consulting, states: “It is not possible to compensate for what has been developing here for 150 years and then is suddenly taken away. No land in New Moscow can compensate for this. The experiments that have been ongoing here are not transferable.”

Situated in the center of Moscow, the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy is Russia’s oldest agricultural research and experiment center.

The university has withstood the impact of many aggressors over the years, its lands remaining intact since 1865. It has produced award-winning studies as well as preserved a vast amount biodiversity in its orchards.

However, on March 4, 2016, a government’s commission ordered that all the land, comprising the famous Michurin’s orchard, as well as the horse-rearing facilities, an extensive list of educational buildings, 20 laboratories, and dormitories be demolished in order to establish the new development and construction of multi-level residential buildings.

The university, simply known as Timiryazevka, provides not only a large, green space inside a metropolis of 14 million people, but is also a true living history of agriculture. More than 100 hectares of land are in constant use for education and experimentation. In fact, a unique field experiment has been ongoing for about 103 years, monitoring the behavior of crop planting. It is part of an international register, one of only 10 in the world. Additionally, the university has carried out climatic observations for 130 years and forged plant-breeding experiments for 100 years. It monitors new plant species, including urban agriculture taxonomy, and employs a staff of about 30 people who are enthusiastically dedicated to the life of this land.

The Michurin’s orchard, moreover, includes an extensive collection of fruit and berry biodiversity. The orchard is dedicated to the protection of unique plant varieties, which could not be transplanted without causing a dramatic loss. Nearly 200 apple varieties and 167 varieties of pears still flourish on this parcel. Apart from the historic and educational value of the land, it is also a national heritage, as granted by President Medvedev in 2008.

To support the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy you can sign the petition here:

For further information contact the Press Office of Slow Food International:

[email protected] – Twitter: @SlowFoodPress

Paola Nano, +39 329 8321285 [email protected]

Giulia Capaldi, [email protected]

Ester Clementino, [email protected]

Slow Food involves millions of people who follow the philosophy of good, clean and fair food. The network is made up of enthusiasts, chefs, experts, young people, food producers, fishers and academics in over 150 countries. It includes 100,000 Slow Food members worldwide, who belong to 1,500 local chapters. Their membership fee helps to fund the association, and they participate in many locally organized events. The network also includes the 2,000 Terra Madre food communities, who are committed to sustainable, small-scale food production.

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