In 1930 Gotland received the majority of the returning Swedes from Gammalsvenskbyn in Ukraine that had arrived in Sweden the year before. These Swedish villagers have been a very substantial part of Gotland society ever since. The Ukraine was liberated in 1991 and in 2001 a sister cities’ agreement between the Municipality of Gotland and Gammalsvenskby 2001 was signed. The village Gammalsvenskby is now called Zmejevka. Currently Zmejevka has about 2 400 inhabitants. Most of them live off of small-scale farming. The standard of living in Zmejevka is comparable to the standard of living on Gotland 50 years ago.
An Inception Phase feasibility study was completed 2014-2015, ICLD 2014-0011. In that study we jointly concluded what mutual areas of needs we could use as a basis for a future collaboration. The greatest needs as identified in the Inception Phase study are in the development of democracy, tourism and agriculture.
The main problem is that today there is no real cooperation between the stakeholders in Zmejevka, especially around their main source of income, small-scale farming. There are no democratic platforms / agencies where agricultural development questions can be discussed. The lack of democratic work and capacity is obvious. There is also no knowledge exchange between the self sufficient farmers.
The main objective of the project is to set up an Agriculture Committee which will be an executive subgroup of Bysovjeten (the village council). This subgroup is meant to serve as a democratic platform where agricultural needs and opportunities can be actively discussed. The committee’s function contributes to positive economic development in Zmejevka.