Seedling propagation and expert advice for organic farming


Seedling propagation and expert advice for organic farming


The main issue is providing vegetable bio seedlings for the local climate, growing from bio seeds and in the DIY substrate from local sources for community gardeners and aspiring organic farmers. It also focuses on greenhouse production and expert advice on this topic for professionals and the general public.

1. Organisation hosting the activity


Legal status

So far it is a private business (self-employed) of the founder (Vendula Donátová)

Year of establishment



Prague, Císařský ostrov - Metrofarm Community Garden

The driving force behind the whole idea is a young woman, Vendula Donátová, a student at the ČZU (she completed her bachelor’s degree in organic agriculture). In addition to her education at the university, she was helped on her way to her dream by the local business incubator at the ČZU, of which she is still a part. The participation and subsequent financial and mentoring 

support from the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and its program EWA – Empowering Woman Agriculture was a great support for her plan. Vendula’s personal mission, which she fulfils through Kultivarium, is to improve the availability of organic food in the Czech Republic and to awaken in people the same passion for growing vegetables that she has. 

The vegetable nursery is located in the heart of Prague in the Metrofarm community garden space and helps small local vegetable farmers and hobby growers succeed. She grows high-quality vegetable and herb seedlings for them from seeds sourced mostly from organic vegetable growers. This can further improve the availability of organic, fresh and seasonal vegetables. The locality is key to the whole project, as well as the values of the circular economy.

It also includes providing expert advice on growing in the form of consultations, workshops and most importantly in the actual implementation of the CSA fields, which supply about 22 member families with vegetables for 5 months of the year but also sell the surplus at local markets. The CSA fields also serve as a workshop venue, with twice weekly work parties or work meetings for enthusiasts from the local community garden and the public. It is also a place to work with corporate volunteers and university students on internships.

The outlook for the future is to expand production, employ and involve more people and improve the technology needed.

2. Activity detailed description

Vendula is in charge of the main organization of the Kultivarium, but she is assisted by assistant coordinators. Participants in the activities are members of the local community garden Metrofarm and CSA, young aspiring farmers and other local gardeners. The number of workshop participants and consulting customers is around 300-500 people per year.

Experience shows that the desirable competencies/skills/training for the trainer to carry out the activity is the most important theoretical and practical knowledge of vegetable growing itself and take soft skills for dealing with people such as non-violent communication.

The activities could only happen thanks to the many collaborations that have been established in previous years. In the beginning, it was the cooperation with the local municipality, which provided the space for the establishment of the Metrofarm Community Garden for symbolic rent and where the facilities of the whole Kultivarium were subsequently established and the CSA fields were created. Within the framework of the business incubator at the ČZU there was systemic support and acquisition of know-how to develop all activities. At the same time, volunteers come from the university, which are university students in need of professional internships. To expand her knowledge, Vendula has taken advantage of the possibility of foreign internships through Project Erasmus (Italy and Slovakia). To provide workshops and equip the space with electricity (solar panels) and access to water, the Via Foundation also helped this year in the project The Place Where We Live, which helps the development of neighbourhood communities.

The biggest challenge in carrying out the activity is the lack of time and ability to prosecute all the activity alone. There is a need to delegate gradually, but at the same time to do this it is necessary to have enough competent people to whom professional tasks can be entrusted. The second challenge is the lack of access for interested parties to suitable land, already equipped with basic infrastructure (water, electricity) near a town with an existing community of people. Here, more support from local municipalities would help, which has so far only happened sporadically. And the last challenge is the investment in the activities themselves, i.e. having the resources to finance the advice and education provided to the wider community.

Implementation steps

Initial investment and mentoring came through participation at the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and its EWA – Empowering Woman Agriculture programme in 2020. This led to the construction of the first greenhouse and other facilities.

The Municipality of Prague provided the land for the establishment of the Metrofarm in the middle of the city and the Kultivarium got its first location. Subsequently, the CSA field where some of the educational activities take place was established. Thanks to this cooperation, a win-win strategy has emerged, where the CG space is complemented by the expertise of the Kultivarium nursery. At the same time, thanks to the synergy of people of similar interests, the knowledge of cultivation was improved. Not only the CSA members but also the wider public repeatedly participated in thematic workshops and work parties (around 15 people per week). 

The total cost of the initial investment in the first year was about 6000 Eur (5000 Eur grant from EWA and 1000 Eur own resources to build the facilities and buy a car) and at the same time in the first year, the first earnings from the sale of seedlings were quickly generated. Vendula built the customized foliar plant for about 500 Eur (the price is about double when buying a ready-made one) and another 1000 Eur was needed to equip it (reusable quick pot planters, substrate, seeds, shelves,…). The introduction of surface water and electricity via solar panels came to a total of 8000 Eur (Via Foundation contributed 2000 Eur, partly co-funded still from community gardens, earnings from KPZ fields, from KZ membership fees and other smaller grants).

The operating costs for the seedlings in a 30m2 foliar planting box came to about 1000 Euro per seedling (seeds, substrate and planters). This year’s 2nd season was already covered completely by their own resources from the sale of seedlings (from two 60m2 foliar planting boxes) and from the cultivation of the 1000m2 KPZ field, including the salary of Vendula of about 0.5 times. If Vendula wanted to, she could have a full-time paid job, but she does not have that much time because she is still studying. 

Regarding the material used, she uses a lot of recycled material (wood, pallets, ) but new ones are worthwhile e.g. solid planters. A lot of DIY techniques were used in the construction. It is also possible to minimize operating costs e.g. by buying seeds and substrate in bulk (wholesale), she also makes some of the seeds herself (flowers, tomatoes, peppers,)

The future outlook is to expand production, employ and involve more people and fine-tune the necessary technology. Thanks to a new collaboration with a farmer school (AMPI), such a potential new site is emerging. There is also the vision of organising conferences for organic vegetable growers.

3. Gallery

4. Conclusions

The main benefit of the activities is the shortening of the food supply chain. People learn to harvest their food elsewhere than in the supermarket and gain a degree of independence through the knowledge they gain about growing. Overall, circularity, food localism, food quality as well as trust in the food system will be promoted. At the same time, people have the opportunity to try and experience for themselves the satisfying feeling of working in the fresh air, in the field or in the garden. It is a natural well-being to our helping mental health.

Advice / Recommendation

"If someone is interested in going in this direction, it is good to talk about your intention and look for ways to implement it. There are plenty of opportunities to find funding or other resources to start a similar activity for the first time at a local level (foundations, business incubators, university cooperation, volunteering,...) but also at an international level (e.g. Socrates internships, Woofing, European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT) and its program EWA - Empowering Woman Agriculture,...)".
"It is worth establishing long-term collaborations or using local networks linking local farmers or community gardens with enthusiasts from the wider community to create places where the whole society can develop through collaboration using win-win strategies. Theoretical knowledge should be supplemented by experience gained from those who are already implementing similar activities".