Farm Visits To Sow Human Element On E. Europe Trip

15-day Tour To Combine Education And Entertainment

June 26, 1991|By June Kurtz | June Kurtz,Contributing writer

Fourteen county residents are taking a tour of Eastern Europe next month, organized by former county extension agent Robert L. Jones.

"This is not the typical study tour that we had in this country," said Jones, 62, of Westminster, referring to a 1969 trip he took to California to gain ideas on management practices. "This is more geared toa specific kind of tourist."

The group will travel through Germany, Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Austria, visiting traditional tourist areas such as the Berlin Wall, in addition to lands of the local farmers on a 15-day educational, yet entertaining, tour.

"Eastern European countries are opening upto tourists," said Jones, who retired as county extension agent in 1984, after 20 years on the job.

"We're going to see a lot of tourist attractions, but I think weaving in some of the personal contact on the farm helps people to relate to the people much better," he said. "We'll have a little more of a local feel."

The non-farmers on the trip are just as excited about the farm visits as the members of the group who are employed in agriculture, Jones said.

Rauland H. Roop, 64, a McKinstrys Mill farmer who went on five other tours with Jones, said the trip gives him a chance to compare his farming techniques with those of other nations.

"Once in a while I can bring homesomething to use in my own operation," Roop said. "They make it a point to show us a little something in agriculture."

Roger J. Myers,also a former trip-taker, said although they probably will not see as many farms as in past trips, he is still looking forward to this latest adventure.

"I like to travel," said the 65-year-old retired Westminster-area farmer. "It's in my blood I guess."

Myers said thebiggest lesson he learned on past trips was to appreciate his home.

"They (foreign farmers) were good, but they don't have the things that we have," he said.

But, Myers added, there are some similarities in the way the farms are run.

"They do things their way, whichin a lot of ways isn't different from us," he said.

This is the seventh oversees trip organized by Jones since 1974. One -- a November1989 tour of China -- was canceled because of the political rioting in Tiananmen Square during the summer of 1989.

Jones' past tours have visited such countries as Australia, England, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Scandinavia,Scotland, Sweden, Switzerland and a couple of the British Isles.

This trip to Eastern Europe almost failed to get off the ground, however, because of the Persian Gulf war,Jones said. Other tours Jones arranged had almost twice as many people, he said.

"No one was thinking about going on a trip," he said."We really didn't do anything until after the war hostilities ceasedin the Persian Gulf."

While there was little advertising of the trip, plans for the journey spread by word of mouth and in letters Jones sent to former trip-takers.

Fourteen Carroll residents -- all but four of whom are farmers -- have opted to pay $3,450 per person tojoin Jones' latest journey. The county group will be met by another group from Idaho.

"This is the most enjoyable way of learning history that there is," Jones said. "It always broadens a person's horizons to travel anywhere."

Among the countries he has traveled, Jonessaid England's farming techniques were closest to those in the United States. France, Germany and the Netherlands also use similar procedures.

But Jones said one of the problems he saw in other countriesinvolved government subsidies.

"It allows a very small farm with 10 or 12 cows to continue to scratch out a living," he said. "It alsosubsidizes inefficiency."

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