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Ladybird farm wins environmental award

An eco-farm in Hungary’s Somogy County has won a European Business Award for the Environment (EBAE) title for its innovative and continuous environmental activities.

Award winner: From left, Joanna Drake, deputy director-general, DG Environment, Janos Hando, owner of Ladybird Farm Leisure Center, and Marko Pomerants, Estonian Minister for the Environment.

The Ladybird Farm Leisure Center (Katica Tanya), from the village of Patka, about 200 km southwest of Budapest, won the EBAE Management Award (for micro and small entities), which is given to organizations “with a strategic vision and management scheme that enable it to continuously improve its environmental performances”. The award was presented this year in Tallinn, Estonia, on October 27 by Estonia’s minister of the environment, Marko Pomerants. 

“It is a great honor and prestige,” Katica Tanya owner János Handó tells the Budapest Business Journal. “We have already received several awards in Hungary, but this lifts us to a European level. This means that we are doing something good and we do it well! This inspires us to do more, innovate and develop creative products that meet our development strategy.”

Ladybird Farm was founded in order to promote a lifestyle in harmony with nature and the environment. “The idea of the farm was conceived in the U.K. back in 1992-93, when I was studying on a MBA course in London,” explains Handó.

“I saw multiple farms that people visited to see household animals and also had a variety of play areas/attractions. I found it strange that families paid to see household animals.” At the time, homeyard husbandry was not popular in the U.K., while in Hungary it was present in every village. “By 2002 this situation had changed drastically in Hungary also. Household husbandry disappeared, as did the animals, therefore, the need to show them in a nice place became stronger.”

Nowadays Ladybird Farm attracts 65,000 visitors per year, and does so while developing a lifestyle that consumes as few non-renewable sources as possible. “Some 80% of our energy needs are covered from renewable sources and we would like to increase that to 90% by the end of 2017, and 100% by the end of 2018,” says Handó. “We try to develop a sustainable supply chain process also, minimizing the number of suppliers and the number of transports to our farm, treating our sewage locally and in an ecological way, selectively collecting the waste and using electric cars for local transport.”

Ladybird Farm is home to lots of traditional Hungarian animals, together with agricultural tools and machines, giving visitors more than 50 different activities. “The first investment was in 2001 when we built a 72-bed high-quality but affordable bunkhouse hostel. Then we started to build the leisure center that by now has more than 4,000 sqm of buildings, 250 animals and more than 60 indoor and outdoor attractions. We are the only leisure center in Hungary that is open the whole year round,” Handó says.

“We are very much principle driven people. And principles you never compromise. Such a principle is that a social value has an equal importance to financial results.” A good example of that is the farm’s “pay by waste” concept. “Our visitors can pay a part of their entrance fee through reusable waste. Is it a revenue loss? Yes. Is it a good step to distinguish real waste from useful waste, therefore making people think differently? Yes. And these two things are equally important.”