The Good Life in Aggtelek National Park Part 95: Visit to 3 more National Park Certified Producers
The Ministry of Agriculture charges the national parks to visit all of their certified producers once a year. We are getting a late start, but hope to visit all 13 local producers by the end of the year. Our next group to visit included Royal Treats in Aggtelek, the Ecolodge in Irota, and the Tiny House in Jósvafő.
In charge of Irota EcoLodge are Dutch nationals Jeroen van Drunen and Lennard de Klerk, both residents in Hungary since 2007. In 2010, Jeroen and Lennard bought a derelict and vacant manor in Irota, north-eastern Hungary. During the years they were renovating this object with the aim to eventually move there, they developed their plans for Irota EcoLodge. To Jeroen and Lennard, being part of the Irota village community first and develop their business plans later was essential. The Ecolodge opened its doors in 2016, and was an immediate hit. Although the original business plan envisioned a majority of guests coming from abroad, instead, a majority of guests the first year have been Hungarian. But whether Hungarian or a foreigner it does not matter. Between the two of them. Lennart and Jeroen speak 11 languages including Hungarian, Dutch, English, German, Romanian, French, Russian and Ukrainian.
We were welcomed at the office based in the completely renovated manor house once owned by the Fay Family, and then taken on a tour of the three spacious, luxurious and well-equipped holiday villas. The villas share a natural swimming pool (size 6x16m) created out of the creek running behind the property and cleaned through a natural plant-based filtration system.
Although slightly different in detail, the houses basically have the same lay-out and are all adjusted to guests with special needs. Each house (170 m2) has its own style: The Lower House is the rustic, countryside type, the Middle House has a retro, 1960s feel, while the Upper House has a sleek and modern design. Each house has an individual colour and art scheme based on enlarged photographs from old Nők Lapja magazines.
The houses are detached, which guarantees full privacy. However, in case your group decides to rent more than one house, doors in the wooden fences in between the properties make it easy to move from one house to the other. All houses are provided with parking space for two vehicles.
One of the most striking things about the Irota EcoLodge is its small ecological footprint, and the care and thought that has been put into this aspect. The walls are made of wooden-frames into which cellulose, made of used newspaper, has been blown as insulation material. The thick and damp-open insulation, combined with triple glazing, ensures a pleasant inside climate, both in winter and summer. Air conditioning is not needed! - In winter, the villas are heated by efficient wood burning stoves supplied with locally grown firewood. Rainwater is collected from the roof and used to flush the toilets and to operate the washing machine. On top of that, they use rainwater in the central utility building to wash your bed linen. Each villa is equipped with a wastewater treatment unit that uses bacteria to clean the water. Hot water is generated by solar collectors and electricity by solar panels.
Information: Jeroen van Drunen and Lennard de Klerk, Klunen Magyarország Kft.
3786 Irota, Petőfi Sándor út 27
Phone: +36 48 349260
The Kisház or "Tiny House" is operated by the village of Jósvafő's most loyal and active promoter Béla Berecz along with his partner Judit. Certified 4 years ago, this accommodation was one of the first four ANP certified products. Built in the mid-19th century, this former residence is now a protected monument and guesthouse in the centre of Jósvafő, and is located beside the Calvinist Church Bell Tower.
The renovated house is divided into three areas plus a porch, and is furnished with traditional furniture. There are sleeping places for 4 persons, a bathroom and an equipped kitchen/dining area. This guest house is very appropriate for those who love nature and the village atmosphere. Guests at the Kisház, or other visitors may also take advantage of the following ANPI certified ecotourism services:
- Guided day and evening walking tours of Jósvafő and its surroundings include:
- Local Museum
- Cultural History Walk
- Old Town Walk
- Jósvafő Village Walk
- Tour of the Wine Cellars on Szőlőhegy
- Occasional Local Product Tastings at the Nyitott Szín (Open Learning Shed);
- Man in the Karst local culinary programme at the Nyitott Szin (Open Learning Shed) or Local Museum;
- Ethnographic and Handicraft Programmes at the Open Learning Shed
- (still) Live Local Folk Music;
- Impish Stories (adult programme); and
- Integrated Environmental Education Programmes:
- 1-3-day field trips;
- 5-6 day forest school programmes; and
- 5-10 day organised summer camps.
Royal Treats (mushroom products, jams and cordials) - Aggtelek
Gabor and Krisztina Koltay were also among the first 4 to win ANP product certification. They had several plans on how to support their move to the countryside, but finally settled on locally gathered and processed forest fruit and wild mushroom products. They launched their business in Aggtelek in 2008. The Koltays are some of the most positive people I have met in the area, and that is detectable in their delicious range of local organic products. At the time of their certification, their range was more limited so they were not able to submit everything they would have liked. Since then, their range has blossomed, with Krisztina's kitchen experiments adding many new products every year. Their certified jams include: quince, dogberry, apricot, apple, sloe, green walnut, rosehip, elderflower, mulberry and plum. Royal Treats mushroom products include: morels, cep, bolete, chanterelle, fairy ring mushroom, black chanterelle (horn of plenty), and honey fungus. Choices of cordials include: dogberry, sloe, elderflower, rosehip, wild plum, lemongrass, forest mint, thyme, acacia flower, elderberry, dandelion, grape, quince, and quince and ginger. We were given one of their new products, apple-ginger-chili jam, to take home to taste. Eaten with celery chips, then with deep fried honey fungus-nyarfa mushroom balls, the jar did not last 2 days! We look forward to their new submissions next year.