László L. Simon, member of the Parliament from the Fidesz party, hosted two urban young guests in July 2011 at his estate in Agárd. Kornél Myat and Dániel Rózsa got to know the nuts and bolts of picking apricots, and they were introduced to the mysteries of tying grapevines and making barrels impermeable.
According to the culture politican, who leads his own family farm for a couple of years, the programme's biggest feat is that urban youth can gain first-hand experiences about rural life and the daily job of those who work on a farm. László L. Simon can coordinate his work as an MP, as a culture politican and as a writer with managing his family estate without any trace of difficulities. According to him, the grapevines make him the most proud as a farmer. Zsóka – who is working at the estate – says that the MP shows up many times even at the evening after a long day at the Parlament to check if everything is OK.
László L. Simon joined AGRYA's Rural Adventures Programme because he felt it to be important for urban youth to experience the hardships and beauties of rural life. In the spirit of this, we adventurers have found ourselves right in the deep water.
At five o' clock in the morning of the first day, we woke up with less thoughts and more excitement as usual. To our surprise, Mr Simon was waiting for us in front of the farmyard by half past six. He greeted every one of his men with shaking hands, and he assigned his task for the day. We brought only the most necessary things with Dani: straw hats, sunscreen and mineral water, which made us comic reliefs in the eyes of the locals, but it was a pretty understandable reaction in retrospect.
On this day, the programme consisted of picking apricots and piling up crates. We didn't need to be out to sleep at night, and when we woke up the next day, we were able to feel muscles which we didn't know that even existed. Besides picking apricots, we had learnt how to tie grapevines, and we took part in making barrels impermeable during the week. The farmhands tried to introduce us to as many tasks as possible. We sneaked most secrets about agricultural work from Zsóka and Márti. We also heard really funny stories from them, and we met with unbelievably kind people. We managed to surprised Mr Simon by our thirst for knowledge about rural life – and particularly winemaking –, and I think that we made many wondering about our physical endurance, making the stereotype of “sissy city-dwellers” gone.
“The programme reached its goal: the young ones managed to have a sneak peak into the life of a family farm during the short time available” – summed up László L. Simon his thoughts about the programme. Although we didn't have six-pack abs despite the intensive one-week-long “farm fitness”, we got home with memorable experiences nonetheless.
My partner in the adventure, Dániel Rózsa, who is working in the field of telemarketing, summed up his feelings: “this is the real world, and the one where I work is virtual. In contrast with the latter, one can create touchable things here, and this is really exceptional in urban life.”
I would summarize my adventure – which was just one week long, but will last for a lifetime – with the words experience, tolerance and respect. Experience, because we could see what people's life is like who are working in agriculture, what kind of problems do they have to confront day after day. Tolerance, because we got to know, accepted and grew to like each other with people who live under radically different circumstances, according to a very different set of ideas. And most importantly, respect for this unimaginably hard way of life, which we tend to totally forget about, although our cozy urban life would be inconceivable without the hard work of agricultural laborers.