Fostering life

Farmers of Ukraine’s frontline regions are currently working amid numerous challenges and problems facing the agrarian industry. After all, the measure of their work is not only the productivity and profitability of agricultural enterprises. The ultimate measure of their work is human lives.

Due to hostilities, constant shelling resulting in the destruction of infrastructure, permanent stress and fear, as well as the danger of landmines, working in the fields is becoming a battle for farmers.

Yet Ukrainian farmers in the frontline territories are working, finding ways to overcome difficulties despite everything. To this end they they cooperate with local and international organizations, receive consultations and use new technologies to increase efficiency.

Plowing, sowing and reaping under fire, they show the world that Ukrainians’ invincibility is manifested in their love for the native land, in the desire to care for it and grow crops despite the deadly threats.

 The stories of this struggle are the stories of people. Today, the stories of people who defend the Ukrainian land are closely intertwined with the stories of those who cultivate it during the war. Without our defenders, there would be farmers and vice versa.

Read about it in the article by Tetiana Veyika, editor of the newspaper “Holos Huliaipillia” and the online media outlet “Huliaipole City.”

Fields on the front line

Agricultural enterprise “Lavanda” LLC is located in the south-eastern part of Ukraine on the territory of the Zaporizhzhia region – in the Huliaipole city territorial community.

The team of “Lavanda” LLC before a full-scale invasion

All the lands of the company are located at the intersection of three regions, dug up by trenches and bomb craters: Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, and Zaporizhzhya.
Before the war, such proximity to the three regions provided wider opportunities rather than caused any alarm, wheras now these lands are within the reach of the enemy’s jet and even barrel artillery, not to mention aviation.

Despite the danger, the company cultivates these fertile lands, most of which are leased land shares. Wheat, barley, sunflower and rapeseed are grown here.

But this simple phrase “cultivation of grain crops” that in peacetime is used in the regular news about the harvest, today is soaked with pain and blood of every agrarian – everyone who, without exaggeration, protects each hectare of crops on the front-line fields at the cost of his life.

War. Invasion. Defense

Director of Lavanda LLC, Dmytro KOROSTELIOV, is one of those courageous Ukrainian farmers who in the wartime managed to preserve the company, the staff and, despite the material losses caused by the enemy, cultivates the land for the third year in a row to have a Ukrainian harvest for his compatriots.

Дмитро Коростельов

Dmytro told us that at the time of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, the company’s lands had already been properly fertilized and sown with winter rapeseed and wheat. The land was also prepared for the spring planting of sunflowers. That is, everything was done so that the harvest of that year pleased both the people and the country.

Today it is difficult to remember the chaos that russian criminals expectedly brought to our land. I say the word “expectedly”, because I knew well that there would be a war, – Dmytro KOROSTELIOV says. – It was possible to foresee the invasion of the russian occupying forces on the territory of our state. US and British intelligence constantly warned Ukraine about military preparations by the russian president. From the first hours of the invasion, the Defense Forces of Ukraine: the AFU, the Territorial Defense, the National Guard, the police, as well as volunteers, began to fiercely resist the aggressor. We, the people of Huliaipole, had to think fast.

As Dmytro recalls, already on the second day of the great war, namely on February 25, 2022, the Public Organization “People’s Self-Defense Unit of the Huliaipole Community” was formed, which actively joined the defense of the town of Huliaipole. They started to construct roadblocks, prepare “Molotov cocktails”, and keep track of enemy movements using drones.

The first enemy vehicles began to break into our town on March 5, 2022 from the side of Polohy that was already occupied by the russian military. However, our town turned out to be too tough for them. To this day, our heroes bravely defend the town and are actively fighting the enemy, – Dmytro says.

Dmytro Korosteliov also recalled how in March 2022, the first military vehicles of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began arriving in Huliaipole. Then, according to him, the small, peaceful town began to turn into a military hub.

But as quickly as the military filled the town, just as quickly the local residents left it, fleeing from artillery fire. Nowadays, Huliaipole is a front-line town where life has stopped and active hostilities are taking place.

Sow and harvest under constant fire

Dmytro’s agricultural enterprise, like many other civilian facilities, was targeted by enemy artillery and missile attacks in the first months of the war. And today, a relatively small agricultural enterprise Lavanda LLC is actually resisting the Russian invasion with its work.

The occupiers caused significant damage and destruction to the enterprise. Hangars for grain storage and agricultural machinery are destroyed or damaged by enemy shells and missiles. So now we have to work as fast as possible. On gathering the harvest, we must take the grain out of the field immediately.

But harvesting the whole crop is also a feat. Because often during the harvest, when it’s hot and a harvester is working, the enemy deliberately strikes at farmers. Enemy shells burst in the middle of a grain field. The stubble, and even worse, the ripe wheat, instantly burst into flames. For a farmer, watching ripe grain burning is like watching life itself disappear.

They have to put out what they can.

We can’t let combine harvesters and drivers go into the field without helmets, bulletproof vests and fire extinguishers. We value and cherish the lives of our employees, who have not left the company since the first days of the war and are still working with me.

Today, we all have the same desire – Victory in this damn war, which daily destroys this small and once cozy town of Huliaipole, destroys entire families, kills their loved ones. I deeply believe that soon the time will come when we will drive the katsaps out our land, which is rich in bountiful harvests and good people, – emphasized the agrarian.

Washed in blood and tears

The head of Lavanda LLC recalls how in July 2022, during a missile attack on one of the villages, two enemy missiles hit the enterprise’s hangar, where our defenders stayed at that time. The attack killed seven soldiers who volunteered to defend Ukraine.

Here are their names:

  • Pylypko Ihor Mykhailovych, sapper of an engineering and sapper platoon. Born on April 20, 1974.
  • Klid Volodymyr Yaroslavovych, chief sergeant of an engineering and sapper platoon branch. Born on April 24, 1973.
  • Voroniuk Andriy Yuriyovych, commander of an engineering and sapper platoon branch. Born on June 12, 1992.
  • Pavliuk Andriy Tarasovych, sergeant, sapper of an engineering and sapper platoon. Born on April 17, 1981.
  • Kosmiriak Vasyl Romanovych, soldier, sapper of an engineering and sapper platoon. Born on February 7, 1984.
  • Skoretsky Vasyl Tarasovych, soldier, sapper of an engineering and sapper platoon. Born on October 16, 1998.
  • Chaika Oleksandr Vitaliyovych, commander of an engineering and sapper platoon. Born on September 19, 1973.

The smashed hangars are nothing compared to the lives of our defenders, – says Dmytro. – The oldest at that time was 49 years old, and the youngest, Vasyl Skoretsky, was 24. Most of the soldiers are from Ivano-Frankivsk and the region; others are from Bucha, Rivne and Vesele, Zaporizhzhia region. Today, Ivano-Frankivsk is a sister city of Huliaipole, where, as soon as this damn war is over, family and friends will come to see the land for which their brave soldiers gave their lives. And we, the people of Huliaipole, will definitely write down their names in our history.

Last year, in Ivano-Frankivsk, Dmytro met with the wives of the soldiers who had died in that missile strike, and also visited the cemetery in the village of Chukalivka, where two friends and comrades-in arms, Ihor Pylypko and Volodymyr Klid, were buried on the same day.

The fallen defenders are my peers, who had wonderful families and children. That’s why it was hard for me to talk to their wives – two Natalyas, who cried and wanted to hear everything about the land where their brave soldiers had died. The boys were friends from childhood. Not only were they best pals, they also had their weddings on the same day, and celebrated the birth of their children together. Together they decided to go to war as volunteers. In peaceful life, the boys had different jobs – Ihor made furniture, and Volodymyr devoted his life to military service under contract. Both Natalyas are teachers: one at a college, and the other at a university. Today, they have one trouble for two, and the only way to solve them is to make their children smile, – Dmytro sighs heavily.

The story of Dmytro and his Lavanda LLC is one of many. They are all similar in some ways. After all, these are war stories. But at the same time, they are all different.


Supported by the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The views of the authors do not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Government.