Roots of Peace and the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine Plans to Turn Ukraine’s Minefields Back Into Vineyards, and we are here to help!

The Cause

Founded in 1997, Roots of Peace, a non-profit organization based in California, embarked on a noble mission to “remove the remnants of war and revive agricultural productivity and prosperity.” With more than 25 years of dedicated efforts, this organization has made significant strides in countries like Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Afghanistan. By transforming former minefields into thriving farms, orchards, and vineyards, Roots of Peace has returned valuable land to the local communities. In a remarkable move, despite the persisting conflicts, the organization now aims to extend its impactful work to Ukraine through its ambitious “Mine to Vines” mission.

In late November, an exciting partnership was announced between Roots of Peace and the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine. Their joint effort aims to clear landmines from the Mykolaiv region, located along the Black Sea in Southern Ukraine, with the goal of restoring vineyards to five deserving families. The region has a rich history of vine cultivation spanning thousands of years. However, following the Russian invasion in February, it has become tragically afflicted by dangerous landmines and remnants of warfare.

Tetiana Godok, the president of the Rotary E-Club of Ukraine, expressed their commitment to the cause, stating, “As Ukrainians and Rotarians, our primary focus now is to restore safety in Ukraine and rebuild areas devastated and polluted by military activities. The Roots of Peace Mines to Vines initiative will make a significant contribution to achieving these goals.”

How you can get involved

The Rotary eClub West of England has joined the cause, and we have focused our efforts towards two main activities for fundraising:

  1. Three vineyard trips organised by our club member, Jasper Vethaak (in person, all spots fully booked)
  2. An environmentally friendly balloon race, which will run from the 12th of June until the 3rd of July.

The winner will be announced at our first meeting of the 2023/2024 Rotary Year!

Now for prizes:

  • 1st Place: Bottle of wine or five trees planted in your name and along with an information pack about your trees.
  • 2nd place: Bottle of wine or three trees planted in your name along with an information pack about your trees.
  • Wooden Spoon: You will win a bottle of wine or the option to plant a tree in your name, along with an information pack about your tree.

Online entries are preferred. Postcard entries are available, but they must reach the address before the start date of the event (Midnight 10th June) to be registered.

Be assured when you buy a balloon; you are helping with a truly worthy cause. Best of luck and happy racing. Get your balloon here.

get your balloon

A bit more about the global initiative

At the age of 65, Heidi Kuhn shared that the inspiration for establishing her organization came to her while hosting an event at her home, where she welcomed influential figures advocating for the eradication of landmines. Reflecting on that moment, she described it as a vision—a vision of transforming bloodshed into something positive, such as turning killing fields into fruitful vineyards and replacing hatred with love. In a recent interview, Kuhn expressed these sentiments.

During an event attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Terry Branstad, the President of the World Food Prize Foundation and former U.S. ambassador to China, it was announced that Kuhn had been selected as the recipient of the prestigious award, which comes with a prize of $250,000. When the announcement was made, Kuhn happened to be visiting minefields in Azerbaijan. The formal presentation of the prize will take place in October in Des Moines.

Branstad, while making the announcement, emphasized the significance of Kuhn’s work, highlighting how it showcases the crucial role that agriculture plays in the process of resilient recovery from conflict towards the restoration of peace. He expressed his satisfaction in declaring Heidi Kuhn as the esteemed laureate of the 2023 World Food Prize for her unwavering dedication to transforming mines into flourishing vineyards.