Monday, June 9, 2014

Auksuciai Model Farm and Forest Center

Last time I published a post on Jonas Šliūpas and his son, who together span over 150 years of Lithuanian history.  Šliūpas père, born in 1861, was a medical doctor and hero of the early national period.  Šliūpas fils, born in 1930, is a Californian whose professional life has been based on his knowledge of irrigation, drainage, and water resources engineering, and whose current project is aimed at improving agricultural practices in Lithuania.  Here’s how his activities are described on the VilNews website:

The US non-profit Auksuciai Foundation was established to help small scale Lithuanian farmers become more self-sufficient and competitive in a free market economy. A primary way that Foundation is working to achieve this goal is through support and advisory involvement with a model farm facility (the Auksuciai Farm and Forest Center, a Lithuanian non-profit), that allows participants from academia, business, government, and the farm community to share information and technology regarding environmentally sound management (including forests) and commercial agricultural production practices. Additionally, the Foundation organizes farmer-to-farmer and agricultural student exchanges; farmer mentoring; and in country workshops between the agricultural and forest communities of the U.S. and Lithuania.

Last Thursday, the model farm near Kursenai (see photo at the top of this post) held its annual field day (lauko diena).  As the patron saint of the Auksuciai Foundation, Vytautas Šliūpas presided, along with Professor Cal Qualset of the University of California, Davis.  Kicking off the program was Mindaugas Kuklierius, Lithuania’s vice-minister of agriculture, and Antanas A. Mazilauskas, rector of Aleksandras Stulginskis University in Kaunas.  The photo below shows Mr. Šliūpas to the left, introducing the vice-minister in the orange shirt. 

One of my colleagues, Dr. Jonas Jasaitis (pictured below), has been part of the Auksuciai Foundation’s brain trust from its inception, and he has built useful bridges between the model farm and the Rural Development Center that he runs at Šiauliai University.  Dr. Jasaitis invited me to tag along and contribute what I could to the field day proceedings.  

Three researchers at the Auksuciai Farm and Forestry Center, including the aforementioned Cal Qualset, delivered a most interesting paper on the commercial potential of asparagus farming for small farmers in Lithuania.  

After Jonas and I (pictured together below) delivered our papers, we engaged in serious and informal conversation with our colleagues, among whom were both academics and farmers.  It was an exhilarating experience.  I felt transported backwards in time to the founding generation of a free Lithuania.



  1. Love that you're having this experience Ken. Farming runs pretty deep in the story of man's evolution/history.

  2. Thanks, Kate. It's true what you say about farming, but floating in a New England pond and contemplating your feet--and then posting it on Facebook--also runs pretty deep.

  3. Sounds like fun! So Ken, what was your paper entitled?...As to floating, I've spent some time on a farm pond myself. Hard to beat.

  4. Ken Kolson, you are a card! I've been catching up just now. Enjoying every word.

  5. Michael, My paper was an argument for private property rights based on the experience of the western Pennsylvania oil fields in the boom of the 1860s. To all, the local public library had its farewell party in Jane's honor last night. She has made many friends for the United States here. A week from today we go to Vilnius, then a week later we will be heading home. Thanks for tagging along, Bill Knox!