Bottles, coffee grounds and preserves are all successfully recycled at Voina’s farm

July 13, 2023

Victor Voina is an entrepreneur from Cahul district focused on eco-efficiency, investing in recycling and sustainability at his business – an ecological greenhouse. He is a beneficiary of the “EU4Moldova: Focal Regions” programme, funded by the EU and implemented by UNDP and UNICEF, which awarded him a grant of €25,000.

What can you do with seventy thousand bottles? Victor Voina from the Roșu village, Cahul district, built an ecological greenhouse. Bottles are an effective thermal conductor, releasing enough thermal energy to heat the greenhouse without the need for another heat source.

In March 2022, Victor planted his first crops in the greenhouse covering an area of over 1000 square metres: lovage, parsley, dill, mint, arugula, curly lettuce, etc. The greenhouse is carefully placed to capture the sun’s heat throughout the day. During the cold season, it is heated with oil that has already been used in the restaurant that the Voina family owns. 

“Thanks to this grant we didn’t become a part of the diaspora and, in a single year, we achieved what could have been achieved in five. This investment meant the realisation of a personal dream—to have a farm where we grow organic, healthy products,” explains Victor.  

The Voina family also owns a restaurant in Cahul. Like any other restaurant, it generates a lot of waste that could not be recycled in the district and was at risk of reaching the landfill.  Victor decided to give this waste a new lease of life. While empty bottles, collected in large quantities, were used to build the greenhouse, coffee grounds and packaging from preserves also found a use. 

“Coffee grounds are a residue full of minerals – micro- and macro- elements so necessary for agricultural crops. After fermenting, coffee grounds and eggshells with added green grass become an acidic substrate. It is well-known that acid soil is suitable for growing blueberries. So, I planted a meadow of blueberries. We grow greens in containers from the preserves, and gift them to our loyal customers or sell them to those wishing.”

In the future, Victor wants to open his own agrotourism guesthouse, where visitors can pick their own greens, vegetables and fruits. 

“This year we'll grow a lot of peppers and tomatoes, the rest will be basil, rosemary. Our testing ground is our restaurant, our family business, where we try and use seasonal products every time and come up with innovation, with more exotic products for local consumers, but very beneficial and necessary in our diet,” adds Victor. 

With the support of UNDP and the Government of Poland, the coffee grounds were valorised at the international network of coffee shops “Tucano Coffee”. In partnership with a Polish company, the team mapped the path of coffee grounds in a restaurant in Chișinău, analysed legislation in the area and found new ways of using the grounds, such as making cups and lids for drinks. This process extends the coffee value chain and ensures a circular economy within the enterprise. 

UNDP Moldova and its partners support green and circular economy enterprises, by offering various funding opportunities to entrepreneurs, especially micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, in order to preserve biodiversity, avoid habitat fragmentation, support environmentally friendly agricultural activity and encourage the use of innovations and technologies in the food industry.