Project: Poland

“Kto ma morgi, krowy, Swinie, tego zawsze głód ominie!”
“He who has acres, cows and pigs, hunger will elude!”

Country Overview:

The Republic of Poland is the sixth largest country among the 27 European Union (EU) members. Emerging in the 10th century, Poland was originally named for the Slavic tribe “Polanie”, which comes from a word meaning “plain” or “field”. Its name aptly describes the flat plains or rolling hills that cover most of Poland and are the site of many small subsistence farms and farming villages.  

While Poland is not a poor country, the accumulation of wealth by its citizens is limited. Political factors, including two world wars, destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure and depleted its accumulated wealth.

About 50 percent of the country's area is used for agricultural purposes, a high proportion among EU countries. Polish agriculture, however, differs significantly from others in the EU. In the western part of the country there are prosperous regions with fertile soils and high levels of intensive agricultural production, which are able to compete against EU markets. But in the eastern part, there are many regions where the soil quality is poor, basic and climatic conditions are adverse for farming and where farmers run small-scale farms. Thus, it is very difficult to earn enough income exclusively from farming in this part of Poland.

Heifer's Work in Poland:

Since 1992, Heifer Poland has been supporting small-scale farms to enable them to seek self-reliance. Developing farms to achieve sustainability, supporting social groups in need, educating people in response to changing economic conditions and supporting local initiatives makes up the bulk of Heifer Poland’s work. To date, Heifer Poland has assisted more than 30,000 families.

Key Services Heifer Provides:

Sustainable agricultural production: Biodiversity preservation with raspberry production; Planting nectar-producing plants to extend season supply of honey

Post-harvest management and processing: Constructing poultry slaughter houses

Market development: Small business start-up training for rural women; Strengthening poultry production value chain

Technology: Ameliorating genetics of dairy cow breeds; Artificial Insemination

Nutrition: Dairy cattle breading in food insecure areas

Communities of Change

1945 Program Participant Shares his Story


Meet Stanislaw Debert; at the end of 1945, Mr. Debert was the recipient of one of the 150 heifers sent by the Heifer Project to Poland on the SS Santiago Iglesias. In early October, I had the good fortune to sit and talk with him, his wife, and a daughter in their home near Gdansk about what that heifer meant to them. At the end of World War II when Europe was seething with displaced persons, Mr. Debert arrived in the area of Gdansk. He fled from Kielce on the roof of a train car with only the clothes he was wearing...